Local program gets sizeable grant to revitalize important program


HUNTINGTON, WV (WOWK) — A local program supporting a Huntington industry is getting revitalized thanks to a grant which will help students become more employable and invigorate the local economy.

 The Truist Foundation recently awarded the Robert C. Byrd Institute $25,000 to expand its welding program.

Welding makes up a sizeable portion of Huntington’s industry—and officials from the institute say it’s been difficult keeping up with demand for trained welders.

“There is a demand in this region for welders; we have difficulty producing enough welders to meet the demand in our region.” 

Mike Friel, director of communications, Robert C. Byrd Institute

So when the Truist Financial Foundation decided which program to give it’s $25,000 grant to, the Robert C. Byrd Institute’s welding program seemed like the obvious choice.

“Hopefully this is not just a one-year event for these folks, (it’s) something that RCBI can leverage and continue their programming so that we can have more folks with more skills, (and) more highly trained employees so that we can attract more employers.” 

Spencer Murphy, market president of Huntington, Truist Foundation

Mike Friel, the director of communications at the Robert C. Byrd Institute, says this grant will help them do just that.

“This grant that we received from the Truist Foundation will allow us to expand the program and to allow additional people to pursue careers in welding, and also to provide the additional workforce that the industry in the region needs.” 

Mike Friel, director of communications, Robert C. Byrd Institute

The program is held in conjunction with Mountwest Community and Technical College.

It will be held in Cabell County Career Technology Center as well as at Spring Valley High School.

“There’s such an interest among prospective students this year that we have enough students to offer a third class and we’re considering expanding the program this fall.” 

Mike Friel, director of communications, Robert C. Byrd Institute

This is it’s 11th year running, and thanks to the grant money, it now stands to become a larger operation than ever before.

The first day of classes begins on Aug. 17 and registration is ongoing. For anyone wishing to enroll, call the Robert C. Byrd Institute for more information at 1-800-469-7224.

The Cabell County Career Technology Center is also offering a new adult evening program on welding technology. Classes begin Aug. 15, and for more information on how to register, contact their office at 304-528-5108.

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