Male and female student painting a car

Blue Ridge Community College Awarded $589,464 Appalachian Regional Commission Grant


Blue Ridge Community College received a $589,464 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) grant this week. Blue Ridge will use the grant to upgrade and bring state-of-the-art equipment and education to its transportation training programs to ensure graduates have the skill-sets and competencies necessary to succeed in the workforce. In collaboration with area employers and high schools, dual enrollment and work-based learning opportunities will expand to address the lack of skilled transportation workers.

Local and regional automotive dealerships, independent garages and the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) are also collaborating with Blue Ridge to fill the abundance of open positions due to an aging workforce, and to meet the skills gap created by an ever-changing industry. With ARC’s funds, the College will purchase and install up-to-date automotive and collision repair training equipment.

“Thanks to the longstanding support of the community and partners like Appalachian Regional Commission, we will continue to be a leader for training workers for local and regional jobs in the ever-growing transportation industry,” said Blue Ridge Community College President Dr. Laura B. Leatherwood. “This grant will be vitally important in training a workforce who has been sidelined for months due to a global pandemic. It will allow us to be ready to jump into action when restrictions on business and movement are lifted, giving our local workforce leverage in what promises to be a tough economic recovery ahead.”

Blue Ridge Community College offers associate degree, diploma, and certificate programs in transportation technologies at both its Henderson County Campus and Transylvania County Campus. Its current offerings include automotive systems, alternative transportation, light-duty diesel, and collision repair.

About Blue Ridge Community College: Blue Ridge Community College is a two-year, post-secondary institution that elevates the educational experience to prepare students for 21st-century success in the workplace or at four-year colleges and universities. Providing real-life, affordable, and accessible education, the College offers more than 100 degrees, diplomas, and certificates; convenient online courses; and fast-tracked job training. For more information, visit

About the Appalachian Regional Commission: The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.  For more information, visit