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Driving school funding awarded

From left, Delta Regional Authority Chairman Chris Masingill, Marengo County Economic Development Executive Director Brenda Tuck, Governor Robert Bentley, Demopolis Industrial Development Board Chairperson Diane Brooker, and DRA Alabama Designee Jim Byard.

From left, Delta Regional Authority Chairman Chris Masingill, Marengo County Economic Development Executive Director Brenda Tuck, Governor Robert Bentley, Demopolis Industrial Development Board Chairperson Diane Brooker, and DRA Alabama Designee Jim Byard.

A new driving school being planned in Demopolis took a big step forward Thursday as the Demopolis Industrial Development Board received a $150,000 States’ Economic Development Assistance Program grant from the Delta Regional Authority.
The DIDB was among nine entities that shared a total of $11.5 million through the DRA grant program designed to create jobs and enhance the state’s workforce in South Alabama.
The $150,000 awarded to the DIDB will be used to upgrade and expand a truck-driving school to be operated by Shelton State Community College. Specifically, it will be used to construct a driving area on six acres of land in Demopolis’s South Industrial Park. The facility will enable SSCC to continue and improve the program to keep up with new federal regulations regarding commercial driver’s licenses. The program attracts students from Marengo, Clarke, Hale, Perry, Pickens, and Sumter counties.
“The Demopolis Industrial Development Board is very excited about the support we are receiving for the truck driving school. Working with Shelton State, we will be able to provide the necessary truck drivers that our current businesses and industries need to remain successful,” said DIDB Chairperson Diane Brooker.
Marengo County Economic Development Authority Executive Director Brenda Tuck said efforts made by Brooker and SSCC’s Mike Fields were key in securing the funding.
“(Brooker) put a lot of work into this project personally, working with Frank Dobson and Brandy Wilkerson at the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission to get the application written for these DRA funds. We truly appreciate the work she does for our economic development efforts, both with Alabama Power and the DIDB,” Tuck said.
According to Tuck, the $150,000 grant makes a total of $700,000 received for the project through the efforts of all stakeholders.
Brooker and Tuck each expressed their appreciation to those at the state level as well as the DRA.
“We greatly appreciate the assistance we have received from Governor (Robert) Bentley and DRA Chairman Chris Masingill and Alabama Designee Jim Byard. We are looking forward to continuing to promote this great asset and assisting in the creation of additional programs in Demopolis and Marengo County,” Tuck said.
According to Brooker, 48 communities applied for the SEDAP grant and only nine of those received awards.