PERKINSTON, MS (WLOX) - Realizing that workforce training will spark job creation, Gov. Phil Bryant signed the "Mississippi Works Fund" bill on Monday.
The fund sets aside $10 million for workforce training at community colleges in 2016, and $5 million for each following year.
"We're very excited. The only way to have those good and trained workers is to have dollars to do the training," said Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College President Dr. Mary Graham.
How much money each college receives, and which programs are eligible, will be based on the needs of both the industry and the region. For instance, TopShip plans to build in Gulfport and bring about 1,000 shipbuilding jobs to the area.
"We're willing, and working with them in conversations to determine what those needs are. It could be anything from welding, to leadership training," said Graham.
Having a pool of highly-skilled applicants can be a valuable tool to recruit even more industries to the state.
"I might actually get a job. Ingalls came this morning and offered us $17 [per hour] just to start. With that kind of money, you can support your family and you can make it a career, not just a job," said freshman Sherree Gordon.
A total of 75 percent of the funds will go toward support training for future industries. The rest will be used to train the existing workforce. The State Workforce Investment Board Rules Committee will oversee the program.
"We are very thankful for that, because now, hopefully, we can get a lot more people in here, a lot more people trained, and we can get a lot more people going to work," said freshman Thomas Pinter.