Goodwill offers trades training through 'The Academy'

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Friday morning was the official grand opening and ribbon cutting at “The Academy,” part of Goodwill Industries of Michiana. The new state-of-the-art facility, located at the Goodwill Bendix Campus, offers tuition-free training for skilled trades like construction, welding, automotive and CNC manufacturing.

“We are blessed to serve 16 counties in Indiana,” said Debie Coble, president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of Michiana, Inc. “So, we want to be where folks need us, and where there is a need.”

Coble says the investment in The Academy was roughly $3 million.

“This really helps facilitate the entire ecosystem of jobs in our community,” said Congressman Rudy Yakym. “You have students living in the community that want to go and take this type of training. You have companies that want to hire these types of people, but you also have companies that are looking to locate here so that when they see a well-trained workforce, the probability of locating here goes up. So really, this is a great positive step forward for the entire community.”

The Gurley Leep Automotive Group also sponsored the Leep Automotive Training Center.

“This one could be a little self-serving because it’s going to help create a pipeline for technicians in our community, which are really in demand,” said Mike Leep Jr., president of the Gurley Leep Automotive Group. “You know, these are great jobs, and they’re more than jobs; they’re careers.”

Martin Nowicki said he is excited to train the next generation of automobile technicians following his own 20-year career.

“I am super excited to have the students both in the classroom and at the shop and just give them the tools they need to be able to build a career like I have,” Nowicki said. “It’s a really good field and a field that really, really needs technicians. They’re in very high demand. So I want to help other people have that opportunity and have that type of career in their life.”

The Academy is part of Goodwill’s Bendix Campus, the same location as The Excel Center for adults looking to get their high school diplomas. Coble said the center had 150 graduates this year.

“We are working to attract new business and new investment and new families to our community resources like this are such a critical piece of our story,” said Jeff Rea, president and CEO of the South Bend Regional Chamber. “So really thrilled, really excited to be here. And this property played such an important part in South Bend’s history and was really the hotbed of so much innovation and so much workforce training and helped so many families. It’s neat to see it put back into productive use.”

Goodwill Industries of Michiana was gifted a matching grant for The Academy, so anyone who wants to contribute will make more of an impact!

Programs are offered to those in St. Joseph, LaPorte and Elkhart counties.

To learn more, or even sign up, click here.

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