HCC Brays Oaks Campus groundbreaking marks milestone in community growth

Jun 22, 2015

Many people dream of furthering their education but do not have the means or support to pursue a better career. Houston Community College is responding to the demand for affordable workforce training with a new campus in the Brays Oaks Community.

“The City of Houston is open for business, but the City of Houston can’t stay open for business if we don’t have a trained workforce,” said Houston City Council Member Larry Green, District K.

On a sweltering Saturday morning, Councilman Green joined fellow city officials, HCC officials, community leaders and activists at India House to answer that demand with a groundbreaking for the new Brays Oaks Campus.

“In order to bring about great community change, education has to be involved,” said Sr. Pastor Terry Mackey, Riceville Mount Olive Baptist Church.

“By increasing our reach into Brays Oaks, we will better serve areas in need of educational facilities,” said Christopher Oliver, HCC Board of Trustees, District IX.

The $12 million, 28,000 square-foot workforce center to be constructed at West Bellfort Street and Riceville Road, will offer GED and ESL courses, which are important learning resources in a diverse area where many adults have not completed high school. According to the Brays Oaks Management District, over 26 percent of residents ages 25 and older do not have a high school diploma. Another 23 percent have only completed high school or have received a GED. Additionally, over 40 percent of the Brays Oaks population is Hispanic and many speak only Spanish.

“I think the ESL, GED and Adult Basic Education courses will fulfill a real need to lift a large number of residents out of a highly deficient education situation that hurts their employability,” said Ray Livingston, director of Economic Development for the Brays Oaks Management District.

HCC Southwest President Dr. Fena Garza gave the City of Houston Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD) praise for giving HCC a $700,000 block grant for this project.

“Programs such as this one are among the best investments we can make for the future of our city,” said Ana Patino-Martinez, division manager of Municipal and Private/Public Facilities, City of Houston HCDD. “HCC makes quality continuing education possible for people who have the desire but probably do not have the means.”

Jobs in high demand in Brays Oaks are in the service industry, which include a wide variety of retail establishments and restaurants. Construction and manufacturing companies also have positions to fill.

“These industries are waiting for qualified, well-trained employees,” said Dr. Cesar Maldonado, HCC chancellor. “HCC continually keeps up with improvements in technology to assure that students are trained to meet the needs of today.”

Robert Glaser, HCC Board of Trustees Vice Chair, grew up near Brays Oaks and said while it has undergone a “roller coaster of changes”; residents will have many additional opportunities because of the new facility.

“This is the most important economic engine activity that has occurred in this district in a long, long time,” said David Hawes, executive director of the Brays Oaks Management District. “You have to start somewhere.”

The HCC Brays Oaks Campus is set to open in Fall 2016. For more information on this project and others in the HCC Groundbreaker Bond Program, visit hccs.edu/bond.

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