In the spring of 2019, Marks Project launched an ambitious initiative to provide free or low-cost job training to those in Quitman County who want it.
The first phase of the initiative involved getting the word out and determining interest in job training. Partnering with Quitman County, Northwest Mississippi Community College and Coahoma Community College, Marks Project volunteers coordinated classes in screen printing, fork-lift operation, GED, and basic computer skills. During this initial pilot phase, more than 75 individuals completed classes, including 40 local residents who earned industry-recognized certification as fork-lift operators.
The next phase of the initiative involves transforming an abandoned light-manufacturing facility located in Marks into a modern training facility known as the Quitman County Career Empowerment Center. Students and faculty members in the School of Engineering at the University of Mississippi partnered with Marks Project to assess the existing structure and prepare plans for its renovation.
Thanks to an investment of more than $230,000 by the Delta Regional Authority, the renovation of the county-owned facility is now underway. Once completed the renovations will streamline operation with improved heat and air, lighting, and safety. The work is expected to be completed by the fall of 2020.
Classes are on hold while the renovation of the Empowerment Center continues. Plans are underway to reopen the Center in late 2020 following the public health safety guidelines established by the State of Mississippi and local government. A full slate of classes and safety protocols will be announced as soon as possible.