Saturday, February 24, 2018




Editorial: Manufacturing academy an exciting opportunity for students, industry, the area

Jan. 27, 2018 at 11:28 p.m.
Updated Jan. 28, 2018 at 8:20 p.m.


Planning is still being done and agreements are not yet finalized, but a cooperative effort among area school districts and colleges to create an East Texas Manufacturing Academy in Longview is wonderful news on multiple levels.

The academy is being envisioned to benefit the many high school students who are not planning to go to college by providing them with specialized training needed to get a good job in our area. That would be wonderful for our young people, of course, but also for companies that often struggle to recruit workers with the necessary training and required skills.

As a dual-credit program to train students for skilled positions in area industry, the academy has tremendous potential. It almost certainly would lead to growth in our economy and an improving quality of life here and across the area.

As intriguing to us as the academy itself is the coalition of institutions collaborating to make it a reality.

At the coalition's core are the four independent school districts that serve Longview students. We have long hoped our districts could find more ways to work together and share resources, both to improve educational opportunities and possibly save taxpayer dollars. A broad partnership like this one could be the start of more such cooperation on other efforts.

Of course, the school districts have already been collaborating with area colleges on dual-credit programs that provide college-level coursework to high school students each year, but the manufacturing academy would push that to a new level. It also would mark an apparent first in such broad collaboration among area institutions of higher education.

A recent planning meeting brought together officials from Spring Hill, Pine Tree, Hallsville and Longview ISDs with those from LeTourneau University, Kilgore College, Texas State Technical College in Marshall and the University of Texas at Tyler's Longview University Center. All would collaborate with area industries and economic development officials to convert the academy from dream to reality.

The effort, which grew from an idea hatched about a year ago by Longview Mayor Andy Mack, has been pushed to its current state largely by Peggy Vaughan, immediate past chair of the Longview Economic Development Corp., Richard Manley, chair of the Longview Chamber of Commerce, and others. It certainly serves as a reminder of the tremendous opportunities available when we are willing to bring multiple parties to the table to look for ways to work together and improve our city.

We look forward with great anticipation to the academy opening — possibly by this fall — and the positive impact it will have on our young people, industry and the area.

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