In Fiscal Year 2023, the State of Maryland awarded the USRC a $10,000,000.00 “Rural Maryland Economic Development Fund Grant” to stimulate economic activity, foster private sector investment, and grow regional job opportunities.
As one of the five rural Maryland regional councils selected for this grant, the USRC will use the funds to advance critical economic initiatives in Cecil, Kent, and Queen Anne’s Counties and throughout the Upper Shore Region.
Funding distributed to Cecil County will support road improvements, workforce development, and the American Disabilities Act (ADA)accessibility enhancements
Funding distributed to Kent County will be allocated to infrastructure and business development projects.
Funding distributed to Queen Anne’s County will enhance broadband access, infrastructure, workforce development, entrepreneurship, agriculture, and aquaculture projects.
USRC dedicated the remaining funds to regional workforce development, career technical education, classroom technology improvements, and business attraction projects.
CHESAPEAKE CITY — Cecil College celebrated the grand opening of its Marine Service Technician program Monday with a ribbon cutting ceremony of the program’s new state of the art shop at Bohemia Vista Marina.
“This is more than an educational initiative, this is a commitment to our students, our community and the marine service industry,” said Cecil College’s Dean of Career and Community Education Miles Dean.
Dean noted that the idea for the Marine Service Technician program began in 2018, when college officials spoke with the Marine Trade Association of Maryland who indicated a void between the demand for service and the number of tech personnel in the marine industry.
After both international and local needs for marine technicians were identified, the college put forth a plan to implement a Marine Service Technician program. In support of the program, Safe Harbor Marinas pledged to build a facility at Bohemia Vista for the program to operate out of.
“For the past 50 years, the focus has been on getting a degree and moving to New York,” said Executive Vice President of Operations for Safe Harbor Marinas, Daniel Mock. “The reality is, that is not for everyone and that we have careers in the marine trades that are not being filled so this is a big step in fulfilling this need that we all know is there.”
Along with a $100,000 grant from Upper Shore Regional Council, local businesses like Outstanding Marine, Turner Marine, Argentino Marine Sales and Chessie Marine all donated valuable engines and parts to the program to allow students to get hands-on experience.
Now, the “classroom” sits in the middle of a marine service shop outfitted with dozens of different engines, lighting fixtures, manifolds and tools where students are taught how to do everything from tie knots for docking, to buffing, waxing and how to completely take apart and rebuild engines.
“The boats and tools we have here are things I wouldn’t have had access to on my own so it is nice to learn how to use the different stuff and progress my skills,” said Chad Thomas, a current student in the program.
The program curriculum follows that of the American Boat and Yacht Council, a non-profit that sets the standards for safe maintenance and construction of all boats in the United States. Upon completion of the program, members of the class will receive a certificate from Cecil College as well as a certificate from ABYC acknowledging completion of the course.
“I can call any marina in the area and get these students a job after they complete the course because there is just that much of a need in this industry,” said the program instructor, Captain Bill Weyant.
Weyant has been a marine surveyor for the past 21 years; is a licensed captain; certified in thermal imaging; certified in ABYC systems and certified in diesel engines through ABYC.
The first class of the program started several months ago and, currently, has 10 students who meet in the evening twice a week for a total of six hours a week.
Weyant explained the 10 students range from age 18 to 40, which has led to a mixture of skill levels which Weyant explained he “uses to benefit the class.”
“We have a mix in the class so I look at everyone’s traits: their good ones, their bad ones, and then I mix them together so they can learn from each other,” said Weyant. “It has been going very well.”
The current class is expected to finish in early January, with the next class starting in February.
Anyone interested in Cecil College’s Marine Service Technician program should visit Cecil College’s website to learn more.
To donate to the program, reach out to Cecil College’s Program Coordinator for Workforce Development and Business Solutions, Amanda Pringle, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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