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Governor’s FTCC visit highlights clean energy, veteran work opportunities


Gov. Roy Cooper visited Fayetteville Technical Community College on Thursday to learn about its clean energy-focused program and to highlight its innovative military workforce training programs.

Cooper’s morning tour of FTCC’s Fayetteville campus was designed to showcase the school’s commitment to renewable energy technologies and its support for the veteran population. The tour included FTCC’s automotive training center, where students train to service electric and hybrid vehicles such as Tesla models and Toyota’s Prius vehicles.

“We kind of revamped and redesigned our (program) to meet the community’s needs,” said Tyler Manion, an auto systems tech instructor at the college. 

The visit was also part of Cooper’s proclamation of Clean Energy Week,  Sept. 25-29 — and to promote his commitment to transitioning the state to a clean energy future. Cooper previously set a goal for the state to reduce its carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050. He also signed an executive order in January 2022 affirming the state’s plan to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions while creating economic opportunities for all North Carolinians, especially in underserved communities.

During the visit, the governor said he believes it was North Carolina’s “moral obligation to fight climate change.” Cooper also encouraged those who don’t believe in climate change science to continue to support clean energy because of the potential economic impact it could have for the state.

“This is coming,” Cooper said, “whether you like it or not. Why not have North Carolina on the leading edge of the clean energy economy?”

Mark Sorrells, Fayetteville Technical Community College’s president, said the school prides itself on “preparing students for the jobs and careers of today and tomorrow.”

"Our mission is keenly focused on preparing a workforce aligned with the economic development needs of our state and region,” said Sorrells, who guided Cooper and visitors through a solar panel demonstration and an electric vehicle class. “Clean energy is a critical element in creating a more sustainable economic base for our future. When community college students succeed, we all have a brighter future. FTCC is proud to be part of the Exceptional 58 that make up the N.C. Community College System."

Support for veterans

The tour also combined the clean energy focus with the importance of educating veterans and helping them transition back into civilian life. Cooper visited FTCC’s All American Veterans Center, where he was able to meet with current and former students and veterans. 

About a third of FTCC students are “military related,” according to Sorrells. 

“Fayetteville Technical Community College is doing critical work to help our veterans transition into civilian jobs and help prepare people to take on all of the good-paying, clean energy jobs coming to our state,” Cooper said.

According to the USDA, veterans make up 9% of solar energy workers nationwide.

Cooper was joined by N.C. Secretary of Environmental Quality Elizabeth S. Biser on the tour. Biser also praised FTCC’s efforts to train skilled workers for the clean energy sector. 

“Training courses like the ones at Fayetteville Tech are clear examples of how we can achieve our environmental and climate goals while preparing students for jobs in the clean energy economy,” Biser said. “We depend on institutions like this to train the Climate Leaders of the future."

After the tour, Cooper gave additional remarks about his passion to educate North Carolina’s future workers and praised education opportunities across the state.

“We have the best community college system in the country,” Cooper said. “Bar none.”

FTCC has more than 28,000 students annually and provides hundreds of occupational, technical, general education, college transfer, and continuing education programs. As part of that effort, FTCC has expanded its clean energy workforce training programs, including a solar power construction course for high school students and a hybrid-electric transportation course, according to college officials.

FTCC also focuses on helping military service members and veterans gain skills needed to take on new jobs. The FTCC All American Veterans Center was created to honor veterans and to provide a location where veterans can gather and receive the support necessary to ensure their success at FTCC and beyond.

Contact Char Morrison at cmorrison@cityviewnc.com.

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Fayetteville, Fayetteville Tech, Roy Cooper, governor, education