Lamar State College Port Arthur’s Growth Aims to Benefit Several Fields with Significant Professional Shortages
Posted at 12:36 a.m. on Saturday, September 17, 2022
Ben Stafford, vice president of workforce and continuing education at Lamar State College Port Arthur, addressed the entrepreneur’s business development group with an immense amount of numbers and data.
But the message was simple.
“Since 2016, you’ve seen projects worth around $38 million, and at the moment we have in hand or are about to start projects worth $51 million,” did he declare. “The Lamar system is there to support this area.”
Stafford was the guest speaker at the event sponsored by the Greater Port Arthur Chamber of Commerce and held the second Wednesday of each month at the Carl A. Park Multipurpose Center.
The LSCPA official provided history and updates regarding the past, present and future of the college.
“This campus was founded in 1909,” he said. “We are one of the 10 oldest two-year colleges in the state. On our original campus, there was a dorm for men and women – a decade before women had the right to vote in the United States of America. It was an equal opportunity education at a tiny college on the Texas-Louisiana border.
The building was demolished in the 1960s, but student housing was added to the campus in 2016.
A year later, the 1906-built facility that served as Port Arthur’s first high school was transformed into Woodrow Wilson Early College High School.
“High school students take college courses and earn a two-year diploma and diploma,” Stafford said.
The following year, LSCPA launched the Center for Business and Industrial Technology, which focuses on programs such as accounting, business administration, medical coding, process technology, software development and more. This complex, Stafford said, cost $13 million.
Next door is a practical training unit Motiva, which Stafford says is one of only three units to have progressed in the state.
“The COVID years really hurt college,” he said. “We had to move very quickly from in-person training to online training, but that never stopped us. Throughout the COVID years, we have developed many different projects on campus.
However, COVID has brought opportunities to college that weren’t available elsewhere.
The Commercial Driver’s License program, which partners with the Department of Public Safety to provide students with their exam and CDL, has served hundreds.
“During COVID, we were the only test center open within 500 miles,” he said. “We had drivers from all over Texas coming to Port Arthur to get their commercial driver’s license. The Governor has asked Texas colleges to step up and support transportation, so we have kept this program open throughout COVID.
Currently, using land donated by Jefferson County near the correctional facility, LSCPA is building what will be the largest commercial driving center in the state.
And next month, LSCPA plans to schedule an open house for the new Industrial Crafts Training Center, which was funded by a grant in 2019 and began construction later that year.
“It’s going to be an interesting setup for all of you who do Contracts, Industrial Contracts, and Craft Contracts,” Stafford told the crowd. “It’s a really big building where you can teach someone to weld and as soon as you’re done you can say, ‘It’s good, it’s really good; Now step into this rig and let me shoot you 30 feet in the air so you can weld it like you’re welding it in a refinery. Because if you don’t know how to weld at 30 feet, you don’t need to look for a job there. You have to look for a job in a warehouse.
Group Chairman Travis Woods called LSCPA’s growth “outside the box”.
“It’s a lot of work,” Woods said. “We’ve been hosting meetings here for probably 5-6 years here in Port Arthur and we’re proud to be part of Lamar State College Port Arthur.”