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Sugar River Valley Regional Technical Center getting TTRC equipment from ECON group

October 30, 2009
NEWPORT — When the board of directors of the Economic Corporation of Newport decided it was time to get out of the machine tool field, it didn't have to go very far to find a willing partner.

"Even though it is a very valuable and proven program, the ECON board of directors always had a little bit of concern we are not educators and trainers but a volunteer board and the Tool and Technology Resource Center would be best served if run by people in the education community," said Dan O'Neill, ECON president.

With that in mind, the directors put out feelers to Sugar River Valley Regional Technical Center in Newport to see if it would be interested in assuming ownership of the tangible assets of TTRC, including modeling machines, training machines, computers and software.

The answer didn't take long in coming and today that machine tool training equipment has been moved from the third floor of the Eagle Block to SRVRTC where it will be set up before second semester classes start in January.

"Initially, that equipment cost tens of thousands of dollars new. Additional items were also donated by different industries," according to O'Neill.

The establishment and equipping of the TTRC was an integral part of the financing mechanism to restore the Eagle Block about five years ago.

Classes were held during evening hours, offering advanced or basic training for current or prospective employees for regional industries and manufacturers.

Once the equipment is in place, evening classes will resume. Students in the engineering and drafting and design classes at SRVRTC will also be eligible to train on the equipment during the day.

John Doherty, director at Sugar River Valley Regional Technical Center, said there are now 40 students in the engineering class and 37 more in drafting and design. Those students come from the Newport, Claremont and Kearsarge Regional school districts.

One of the key trainers at TTRC over the years has been Chris Arnold who was a key player getting the program up and running. He will continue in that position at the technical center site.

O'Neill said ECON gave the name of the program to Arnold so he could start doing it as his own business by renting space and doing the training himself or getting individuals to come in and provide the training.

"The ECON board is really excited about it because it has been such a good program. We're glad to see it continue to be used and expanded," O'Neill said.

As a result of the move, ECON, which owns the Eagle Block, will be able to rent or lease space on the now vacant third floor to provide income and additional business opportunities for someone in the downtown area, O'Neill stated.

Salt hill Pub occupies the bottom two floors.

"This is sort of a partnership," Doherty said of the new opportunity for the technical center. "Chris owns the name and we own the right to the equipment."

High school students will have the advantage of being able to use the equipment during the day, Doherty commented. "They will be able to further their knowledge and skills. It's a win, win, win situation and a wonderful partnership."

ECON officers in addition to O'Neill include Mark Pitkin, vice president; Terry Dorr, treasurer; and Beverly Rodeschin, secretary.

Matin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
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