Noble Energy to invest $250,000 in college program - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Noble Energy to invest $250,000 in college program

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Photo: (L to R) Martin Olshinksy, president W.Va. Northern Community College; Doreen Larson, president, Pierpont Community and Technical College;  Gov. Early Ray Tomblin; Gary Willingham, Senior VP, U.S. Onshore Region, Noble Energy, Inc. and James L. Ski Photo: (L to R) Martin Olshinksy, president W.Va. Northern Community College; Doreen Larson, president, Pierpont Community and Technical College; Gov. Early Ray Tomblin; Gary Willingham, Senior VP, U.S. Onshore Region, Noble Energy, Inc. and James L. Ski
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Noble Energy, Inc., announced its partnership with the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia March 26 for the new West Virginia Community College Petroleum Tech Program.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will make a formal announcement Wednesday afternoon about the new program, which will to cater to the state's petroleum and natural gas boom.

As a founding partner, NobleEnergy will invest $250,000 as a one-time donation in the institution's one-year certifications and two-year degree programs focused on shale exploration and production.

The WVCTCS program is one of 14 in the nation.

Gary Willingham, senior vice president of Noble Energy's Onshore Region, will join Tomblin as well as administrators and students of Pierpont Community and Technical College and West Virginia Northern Community College.

Both colleges will offer the new program.

"Education and workforce development are essential when competing for economic development opportunities," Tomblin said. "These partnerships and the education reforms underway in West Virginia are vital to continued workforce development programs."

Noble Energy's contribution is expected to help participating schools purchase equipment for hands-on training; offer scholarships; and fund recruiting efforts to attract students to the program from around the region. In addition, Noble Energy will offer internships to students enrolled in the program; provide field tours of operations and facilities; and offer employee expertise in the classroom.

Willingham spoke of Noble's commitment to the area and its people.

"We're here to develop the workforce of the future and prepare them for what lies ahead," he said. "It's important for us to have a skilled workforce. We're glad to be able to partner with the community colleges in the region towards that goal.

 "It's a great opportunity for West Virginia," Willingham added. "Not only Noble, but a lot of companies are expanding. There is a tremendous resource to be developed here. It can be developed safely and provide low cost energy to the area. And it will provide a future (for the younger generation.) We're exciting about it."

 The quarter million dollar donation will not be the end of Noble's investment in West Virginia, Willingham said.

 "We have programs all over and we're always investing in the people in the community," he said. "We have a partnership with Marshall County Schools for energizing our youth in after school programs. We do other programs in other areas. We continue to look for opportunities where we can help out. We like to identify the needs in communities and figure out what we can do to help out."