Donation will help expand Del Mar College’s career and technical programs at San Patricio County high schools

Representatives from Gulf Coast Growth Ventures (GCGV) announced at a news conference today they are donating $100,000 to the San Patricio County Workforce Development Consortium to support Del Mar College’s (DMC) career and technical education programs in the county’s high schools.

“Partnering with the school districts of San Patricio County in this way is an opportunity for us to help make a positive difference in the lives of students and their families,” said Paul Guilfoyle, ExxonMobil venture executive for GCGV.

GCGV, a joint venture with ExxonMobil/SABIC, is building an ethylene production plant on a 1,300-acre tract in San Patricio County. When the plant begins operations in late 2021, it will generate 600 permanent jobs with an average salary of $90,000 per year.

Mansour Al-Otaibi, SABIC chief financial officer for GCGV, echoed Guilfoyle’s statement.

“Education is a key component of our Good Neighbor Program,” he said. “Today’s contribution to the Consortium is just one aspect of that commitment.” 

The Consortium, an organization formed last year that includes DMC and seven San Patricio County ISDs, is designed to help the ISDs develop career and technical programs that precisely meet the needs of industry coming into the area.

The ISDs are:

Gregory-Portland ISD Odem-Edroy ISD Mathis ISD Taft ISD Sinton ISD Ingleside ISD Aransas Pass ISD Part of DMC’s role in the Consortium is to work with the ISDs to seek funding through grants, donations from industry partners and other sources to make the programs possible. Today’s donation is the largest from an industry partner to date.

The funds will be divided among the high schools in proportion to their enrollment, said Dr. Paul Clore, Gregory-Portland ISD superintendent.

“We deeply appreciate GCGV’s contribution. To expand these programs and guide students to workforce possibilities coming into the area, we need support not only from industry but also from the sub-contractors who will employ them as well.”

DMC has for years offered dual credit career and technology programs at San Patricio County high schools, and many of them align directly with GCGV’s needs, such as process technology, instrumentation, welding, and millwright.

“This generous donation from Gulf Coast Growth Ventures will provide the resources and specialized equipment to expand the dual credit course offerings,” said Lenora Keas, DMC vice president of Workforce Development and Strategic Initiatives. “It’s a great investment in the community. These programs lead to high-paying, in-demand careers for local students.”

Gregory-Portland High School senior Cynthia Vu, who is studying engineering, said the course has surpassed her expectations.

“I’ve learned the fundamentals of engineering and discovered so much more about the profession than I expected, especially how the role of engineers directly affects the safety and welfare of the public.

“I want to thank Gulf Coast Growth Ventures for committing to the future of these programs.”

DMC’s dual credit courses give high school students a head-start on their educational and career paths. Depending on the program, students can earn certificates or college credits toward an associate’s degree.

Over 1,770 high school students in San Patricio County enrolled in DMC’s dual credit courses during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Kade Baker, a senior at Gregory-Portland High School, is in his second year in the process technology program.

“The program is great,” he said. “It’s helping us learn the ins and outs of the plants and preparing us for the future. I hope to become an operator or plant manager at a company like ExxonMobil or others that are opening nearby.

“It’s important for me to have career options here at home. Portland is great community. It’s not too big, it has good schools and I want to stay here.”

GCGV is excited about hiring local, Guilfoyle added.

“Local employees have roots – families and community connections. That further connects us in the community. It’s a top priority for us; and 80 percent of the operators we’ve hired so far are from the local area.”