Welding bonds for growth

Gulf Coast Growth Ventures provides $100K donation 

Some dual credit students in San Patricio County will be able to get a head start on their careers thanks to a donation from Gulf Coast Growth Ventures.

The $100,000 donation will go toward scholarships for dual credit welding and technology students in seven school districts.

“Partnering with the school districts of San Patricio County in this way is an opportunity to help make a positive difference in the lives of students and their families,” said Paul Guilfoyle, an executive with Gulf Coast Growth Ventures.

Gulf Coast Growth Ventures is a combined project between Exxon Mobil and Saudi Arabia Basic Industries Corp., or SABIC. The group plans to develop a multibillion-dollar plastics manufacturing facility in San Patricio County.

“We are here to provide opportunities that can serve as a foundation for the rest of their lives,” Del Mar President Mark Escamilla said at the event held in the welding lab at Gregory-Portland High School.

There were more than 1,700 dual credit students in San Patricio County in 2017. That number had already increased for this school year as of Aug. 22, with registration still open, according to Lenora Keas, DMC’s vice president of Workforce Development and Strategic Initiatives.

“Through the dual credit program students are able to gain academic and technical career course credit,” Keas said.

Gregory-Portland High School, which began its dual credit welding program four years ago, has seen interest in the program surge, said Superintendent Paul Clore.

Clore and Gregory-Portland High School Principal Kyde Eddelman joked that they may have to start offering welding classes in the parking lot to accommodate the large numbers of students interested in the program.

“What we are trying to do is make sure businesses have access to a well-trained workforce coming out of the county high schools,” Clore said.

The funds will be divided based on the size of the following school districts: Gregory-Portland, Odem Elroy, Mathis, Taft, Sinton, Ingleside and Aransas Pass.

“Many students are excited about the industry certificates they can receive from this dual credit program, certificates of which can allow them to seek work out all over the world” Clore said.

Student Cynthia Vu, on hand for the check presentation, said her time in the engineering program was worth the hard work.

“It’s definitely an investment to take the course,” Vu said.

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