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Four years ago, when brining a massive petrochemical plant to Beaver County was just an idea, officials at Beaver County Community College treated it as an imminent reality—they sent teams to Texas, met with the leadership at BASF, Nova Chemicals and, of course, Royal Dutch Shell—the company behind the ethane cracker project—to find out what the industry needed in terms of employees and what skills they would need. Then they set themselves up to provide them.

OPPORTUNITY KNOCKING —Residents of Beaver County communities such as Aliquippa and Beaver Falls learn about process technology and engineering programs at CCBC’s career expo in 2016.

Last October, after Shell officially announced it would build its $6 billion facility in Potter Township, CCBC held a Career Expo to show area residents the programs it had established to train people to get the estimated 6,000 construction jobs, and 600 long-term jobs the plant will provide—more than 1,000 people showed up.

On Thursday, Oct. 12, CCBC held two more such expos; an afternoon session tailored specifically for ex-military personnel, and an evening expo, like the one a year ago, for the general public. And as college president Chris Reber, dean of workforce and continuing education John Goberish, and executive director of advancement and sponsored programs Kolton Codner told the New Pittsburgh Courier in an exclusive interview Oct. 9, they are psyched.

TAKING IT IN—Attendees at CCBC’s 2016 Career Expo listen to petrochemical industry, union and college representatives on training for career opportunities at the Shell ethane cracker plant.

“We’re very excited because (beyond the jobs created at this plant) it will inspire more jobs in other parts of the economy—for instance, plastic manufacturers using the polyethylene pellets it creates,” said Reber. “And all signs are pointing to another cracker (plant) going up in Belmont, Ohio—70 miles away. We could be talking about many thousands of jobs—so we not looking at just immediate jobs but a wide spectrum of jobs.”

Codner said the main plant-related career program is called Process Technology, which essentially covers everything the plant does, and how, from raw material to finished product.

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