RCBI to establish advanced welding facility on former industrial site

Marshall University’s Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advanced Manufacturing (RCBI) will play a pivotal role in transforming a long-vacant Huntington industrial site into a 21st Century Manufacturing Hub.

RCBI’s new Welding & Robotics Technology Training Center will become the anchor tenant of the City of Huntington’s new H-BIZ Green Manufacturing Hub on the 42-acre former site of ACF Industries, adjacent to Marshall’s campus on Third Avenue. The project is part of a larger $62.8 million U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Build Back Better award announced Sept. 2. The initiative is led by Coalfield Development Corporation and includes a broad coalition of partners.

The former ACF machine shop – one of two remaining buildings on the site – will be rehabilitated, repurposed and expanded to become the permanent home of RCBI’s Welding Technology Program offered in partnership with Mountwest Community and Technical College. The state-of-the-art facility will offer students and industry alike access to the latest welding techniques and technology, including robotic welding.

“This new center will allow RCBI to consolidate our Welding Technology Program at one Huntington area location and greatly expand the number of welders we train by offering day and evening classes,” said Derek Scarbro, RCBI deputy director. “Welders are in great demand in our region. Manufacturers consistently contact us wanting to hire our students, most of whom already have jobs before they finish the program. Now we’ll have the capacity to educate more welders to meet industry demand.”

Scarbro said he also expects RCBI’s center to become a regional hub for testing, credentialing and certifications offered by the American Welding Society (AWS) – as well as an economic catalyst for the region.

“The manufacturing sector repeatedly tells us there are hundreds of unfilled jobs in our region,” he said. “We’re confident that if we deliver the training, certifications, and access to the latest technology, not only will existing manufacturers innovate and grow, but new industry will set up shop in the H-Biz Manufacturing Hub and the surrounding region.”

Scarbro thanked officials with the Huntington Municipal Development Authority for including RCBI in their portion of the Build Back Better proposal for southern West Virginia. “This initiative is a win for the city, a win for our students and a win for manufacturers. It will enable us to train our people for good-paying, in-demand jobs here at home.”

The opening of the new RCBI Welding & Robotics Training Center will happen after the completion of renovations at the site, which are expected to take several months.

For more information about RCBI’s Welding Technology Program or any of its career skills or customized training opportunities, visit www.rcbi.org/education-training or contact Carol Howerton, senior strategic advisor for workforce development, at or 304.781.1680.

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