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Lee College opens new Corporate Training Center, aims to help companies train workforce

August 4, 2023

Lee College — a community college in Baytown — is bolstering its efforts for workforce training with its new 11,000-square-foot Corporate Training Center.

The center is a newly renovated building inside the college’s McNair Center, located at 3411 I-10 between Wade Road and John Martin Road. It will be operated by the Lee College Center for Workforce and Community Development and will offer hands-on training and leadership development for employees of all levels.

“With this new instructional space, we can deliver advanced technical training like no other college — anytime a company has needs," said Marsha Tuha, executive director of the Center for Workforce and Community Development, in a statement. "The focus is to get employees in and trained for a real-life work setting and with the latest technology. We are not teaching concepts. We are teaching troubleshooting."The facility’s abilities range from onboarding training to upskilling and solidifying skills of experienced employees. Larry Lester, Workforce Center's technical adviser who brings with him decades of experience as an electrical engineer and maintenance supervisor at ExxonMobil, customizes the training for companies and is tasked with hiring the instructors.

In a release, Lester said it’s one thing to know how to use the equipment, and another thing to know the inner workings of it to troubleshoot if a problem occurs.

"The biggest thing that I've seen in this program is the 'Aha!' moment when a person understands new technology, new equipment, new ways of looking at stuff and how to use that information to get the job done," Lester said. "These include people who've been doing their jobs for 15-20 years."

According to the college, those who learn from the center will have the ability to work with equipment that is seen out in the field, such as the Emerson Performance Learning Platform unit, which is for process control and instrumentation training.

The new center also has labs set up in a modular fashion to allow training labs and lectures to accommodate any class size, the college said. The renovations for the center cost roughly $2.3 million, college officials said.

In the past, the college has offered help to its industry partners such as ExxonMobil, LyondellBasell and Worley, providing corporate training to their employees.

In a release, Zoe Barinaga, process manager for ExxonMobil's Baytown chemical plant, said that it’s important to keep up with growth by having well-trained candidates in the area. She said in her five years with the company, it has turned over half of its operators because of retirements and expansions.

According to the college, the new facility will also help enhance its existing partnerships with employers who hire its graduates.

"How wonderful is it that we can educate our students and then, when they get a job with one of our industry partners, they come right back to Lee College to get trained with their new company," said Lynda Villanueva, Lee College president, in a statement. "We are producing employees who are advancing their skills, thinking on their toes and becoming problem solvers."

More information on the center and training offered can be found here.

Lee College also recently received a $900,000 gift from the estate of the late John and Charlotte Henderson, which is the largest estate donation the institution has received in its 89-year history.

The Hendersons left Lee College 10,000 shares of Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM) stock, which was sold for about $900,000, the college said June 8. The money will now be used to establish the Henderson Family Trust to create 20 scholarships annually. Recipients will be known as The Henderson Scholars.

By Sofia Gonzalez, Houston Business Journal