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TWCIT Consortium check-signing ceremony Richland College Receives $523,089 Grant from Texas Workforce Commission in Check-Signing Ceremony

Richland College, Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), City of Richardson and local Richardson information technology industry representatives participated in a check-signing ceremony March 22 at Argo Data Resource, Inc. Richland College was awarded a $523,089 Skills Development Fund grant by the Texas Workforce Commission to train 197 IT employees, totaling more than 8,334 training hours, for Richardson’s first IT Consortium, consisting of Richardson employers Argo Data Resource, Inc., a financial and healthcare software company; GXA Network Solutions, an IT help support company; and the Wilkins Group, a telecommunication support company.

Training under the grant includes business technical, general technical and non-technical training in subjects ranging from specific software applications to accounting to customer service and more. In addition to training incumbent employees, this grant will add 21 new jobs to the IT Consortium companies.

“This training, delivered by Richland College Garland Campus, empowers employees through enhanced skill development and provides the companies with a competitive edge in an ever-changing global IT market,” said Richland College president Kathryn K. Eggleston, Ph.D.

At the ceremony, Eggleston also spoke about the impact this training will have on their employers and the local economy, as well as applauding each company involved for their dedication to enhancing the skills of their workforces and expanding the economic base of Richardson, the North Texas region and the state of Texas.

“Richland College appreciates the ongoing confidence the Texas Workforce Commission, the Richardson business community and company partners place in us as a dependable, experienced, high-quality, results-focused training provider,” Eggleston said. “We remain ready and willing to serve.”

“Everything requires IT. That’s what makes what you’re doing here so impressive,” Texas Workforce Commission commissioner representing labor, Julian Alvarez, said. He addressed the gathered crowd and discussed technology’s rapid growth and change and how businesses statewide in all sectors require employees with IT skills, noting that Richland College has been listening to the local business community and providing customized training to fit the needs of these employers.

“The regional impact of this training, and the commitment by our three entities today, is $4.4 million in the local community, and that’s just one grant that we’re doing,” said Alvarez.

At Argo Data Resource, Inc., GXA Network Solutions and the Wilkins Group, training is already underway, with additional courses to be taught during the coming months.

“We’ve gained skills that we’re going to use to implement better IT projects and better IT solutions that will help build stronger Texas businesses,” said George Makaye, president of GXA Network Solutions.

Upon completion of this training, Richland College hopes to continue working with the Texas Workforce Commission to receive additional Skills Development Fund grants to offer training opportunities to additional Richardson-based IT businesses every six months.

“We are very thankful for the continued partnership between Richland College and the Texas Workforce Commission,” said Richardson mayor Paul Voelker. “During the past several years, their combined efforts have created millions of dollars in training opportunities for Richardson businesses, and this latest investment will serve as another prime example we will use to retain and attract jobs to our Telecom Corridor® area.”

The Richardson Economic Development Partnership, a joint initiative established by the City of Richardson and the Richardson Chamber of Commerce dedicated to building a vibrant and thriving local economy, has now assisted Richland College in facilitating Skills Development Fund grants totaling nearly $3 million to five Richardson companies since 2014.

“We’re thrilled that connections made through the chamber helped bring together Richardson businesses with this highly technical training,” said Richardson Chamber president Bill Sproull. “We’re proud of Richland College’s partnership in preparing our workforce for the valuable technical opportunities we continue to attract to Richardson.”

For additional information about the Skills Development Fund program with Richland College and the TWC, visit https://www.richlandcollege.edu/aboutrlc/garland-campus/pages/skills-development-fund.aspx.

Richland College Offers On-Site Training and Potential for Advancement to Associa Employees
JJ Moreno poses in a cubicle with his three certificates.

JJ Moreno, lead accountant at Associa, posts on his cubicle his three certificates of completion for on-site training from Richland College. Photograph by Paul Knudsen.

At the Associa Shared Services Center in Richardson, Tex., many of the cubicles in the open concept office are adorned with certificates of completion from Richland College. They serve as points of pride, showcasing that the holders are furthering their education. The certificates and the training completion they represent provide the potential for career advancement for the several hundred people who show up for work each day at this Associa location.

Last October, The Texas Workforce Commission presented Richland College with a $449,988 Skills Development Fund grant to train 222 new hires and 79 incumbent workers at the Associa Shared Services Center. Since then, Richland College has been providing the workers with classes on customer service, supervisor leadership, Lean office processes, Microsoft Excel and accounting.

“Overall, everyone is very happy with it. They take pride in the fact they’ve gone, post the certificate on their board, discuss who goes next and what sessions are available,” said Eric Blanchard, director of client accounts payable for Associa. “On the job side, they’re looking for ways to apply their learning. I get folks who have attended the Lean session and are trying to figure out how they can apply it to a project they’re working on. They don’t just want to take the course. They want to take it to that next step.”

Stephanie Taylor, director of data management organization at Associa, agreed. “[The employees] have been excited about the fact that they can see we’re investing in them, and that’s always a big bonus in regards to morale and building that sense of support and team spirit for them,” she said.

From the employees’ perspective, the training has not only allowed them the opportunity to learn new skills that can then be translated back to their jobs, but it has also provided them a way to further their dreams and career goals.

JJ Moreno, a lead accountant with Associa, said it felt good to be getting continuing education credit with Richland College because it’s helping him achieve his goals. With the training, Moreno is hoping to build his career with Associa and move up within the company. So far, the classes have helped him not only polish his skills, but they have also allowed him to approach problem solving from new angles.

“The classes have been a lot of help because they definitely make me think twice before I act in a certain way,” said Moreno. “I now try to always approach things in a different way so that I can get a better outcome.”

Debbie Simpson, the tax and banking manager, might be Associa’s biggest advocate for the training provided by Richland College. Not only has she completed multiple sessions herself, but she was also instrumental in ensuring her employees were the first group to complete the customer service training.

“I haven’t heard anything negative about the training,” said Simpson. “I’ve heard them say, ‘oh, I want to take that class!’ or ‘I want to do this!’ It’s very valuable to the company and the team.”

“I think it’s a great opportunity we have as a company to have this training available,” Simpson continued. “If we’re having this training offered to us, we need to utilize it.”

Simpson places a priority on ensuring her staff has opportunities to grow in their careers and hopes the training will allow her to promote more employees from within her department.

“You want the success of your staff so they can move up and do better things,” Simpson said.

Overall, the management team at the Associa Shared Services Center echoes Simpson’s sentiments on the training and how it has affected not only the skillsets of their employees, but the morale of the company as a whole.

“To me, it’s been exciting,” said Blanchard. “That’s a good word for it. As a manager, seeing employees excited about attending a course and figuring out how they can leverage that going forward is great.”

Associa was founded in 1979 by Texas State Senator John Carona and is North America’s largest community association management firm with more than 150 branch offices worldwide. The company serves homeowner associations of all types, including condo, mixed-use, master-planned, luxury high-rise, active-adult, resort and golf communities.

Richland College Receives $449,988 Skills Development Fund Grant to Train Associa Employees in Richardson

Representatives from Richland College, the Texas Workforce Commission, Associa and the City of Richardson pose with a check for a grant intended to train Associa employees. From left: Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar; Richland College Garland Campus Dean of Resource Development Shellie Heard; Texas State Senator and Associa President; CEO and Chairman John Carona; Richland College President Kay Eggleston; and Richardson Mayor Laura Maczka.Richland College, Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the City of Richardson and Associa representatives were present at a check-signing ceremony Wednesday morning at the Associa Shared Services Center in Richardson to award Richland College with a $449,988 Skills Development Fund Grant by the TWC.

The grant will be used by the Richland College Garland Campus to train 222 new hires and 79 incumbent workers at Associa’s Shared Services Center. Employees will begin their training next week.

“Richland College Garland Campus appreciates the ongoing confidence that the Texas Workforce Commission and area businesses and industries place in us as an experienced, dependable, high-quality and results-focused skills and workforce training provider,” said Richland College President Kay Eggleston. “We continue to remain ready and willing to serve the training and education needs of our community, and we look forward to meeting and exceeding your expectations for workforce training with Richardson businesses and industry partners such as Associa.”

Event speakers included Eggleston; Richland College Garland Campus Dean of Resource Development Shellie Heard; TWC Chairman Andres Alcantar; Texas State Senator and Associa Shared Services Center President, CEO and Chairman John Carona; and Richardson Mayor Laura Maczka.

More than 300 of Associa’s Shared Services Center employees also attended the ceremony, where they learned more about how the grant would affect them and their employer.

“It helps you acquire the skills that are going to be necessary to do a job that is needed in the facility right behind us and allow this company to continue to create opportunities for the new people that will be coming in next week and next month,” Alcantar said to the Associa employees in attendance. “Go out there and get the job done.”

“This generous grant from the Texas Workforce Commission will give our employees the skills they need to provide unsurpassed service, as well as to help strengthen the Richardson business community, said Carona. “We are grateful—very grateful—for this unprecedented opportunity, the first of its kind not only for Associa, but for our industry as a whole.”

“On behalf of the entire Associa family this morning, I would sincerely like to thank the Texas Workforce Commission, Richland College and of course the City of Richardson for this unique opportunity,” said Carona. “Thank you all so much.”

Associa is North America’s largest community association management firm with more than 150 branch offices in the United States, Mexico and Canada. The company serves homeowner associations of all types, including condo, mixed-use, master-planned, luxury high-rise, active-adult, resort and golf communities.