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Mark Sorrells and Amanda Lee sit behind a table and shake hands while looking at the camera. There are backdrops behind them with FTCC and Bladen Community College logos on them.

FTCC President Dr. Mark Sorrells and BCC President Dr. Amanda Lee shake hands after signing an agreement to expand Truck Driving Training opportunities. [Photo by Natasha Brown]

Fayetteville Technical Community College and Bladen Community College have partnered to increase truck driving training opportunities in the region.

FTCC and BCC made the agreement official Wednesday in a signing ceremony held on Bladen CC’s campus. The arrangement allows students enrolled at either school to utilize FTCC’s truck driving instruction facility, including an expanded driving pad due to open in 2024, and Bladen’s new driving simulator.

“I firmly believe we’re stronger together in the community college system working in ways where we can extend training that might otherwise be hard to sustain in a rural area,” FTCC President Dr. Mark Sorrells said.

Both Presidents emphasized the potential impact of the agreement on local economic development.

“Having a truck driver training opportunity for our local community is going to impact not only our students in the area but all of our businesses,” BCC President Dr. Amanda Lee said.

A truck with a trailer painted with Fayetteville Technical Community College branding on a training parking lot.

A truck on FTCC’s current training parking lot. [FTCC photo]

Sorrells noted that future similar partnerships are planned, including a truck driving training agreement with Robeson CC that should blossom with the opening of FTCC’s driving training pad.

“Almost all of us are working in a parking lot, which limits the number of students and the number of trucks we can put on that pad at a time,” he said. “This will expand our opportunity set exponentially, and we’re sharing that opportunity with Bladen and eventually with Robeson to really help create more economic development.”

The partnership comes as part of the colleges’ efforts to help address the national truck driver shortage, thanks to State funding from the Truck Driver Shortage Grant Program.

FTCC and BCC have been awarded $247,000 from the grant. The money is part of $2 million in funding to be distributed to nine applications representing 14 community colleges.

Funding from the Truck Driver Shortage Grant Program will meet the following objectives:

  • Provide funds for community college instructor pay and equipment related to truck driver training programs, particularly in rural and depressed areas;
  • Provide funds for tuition scholarships paid directly to schools to provide opportunities for individuals that are unable to afford tuition for coursework related to truck driver training programs and to obtain commercial driver licensure;
  • Provide hiring bonuses to retired truck drivers recruited as instructors to expand community college training programs throughout North Carolina.

The program is designed to address a national truck driver shortage that was put in stark terms by the American Trucking Associations last fall when it announced a shortage of 78,000 truck drivers across the country.

To address the driver shortage, the State gave the North Carolina Trucking Association Foundation $5 million in nonrecurring State Fiscal Recovery Funds. With $2 million, the Foundation collaborated with the North Carolina Community College System to establish the Truck Driver Shortage Grant Program.

FTCC is one of 34 community colleges in the state to offer Truck Driving Training.

Read more about the program from the N.C. Community Colleges System at this link.

Mark Sorrells and Amanda Lee each sign paperwork while sitting at a table.

Dr. Sorrells and Dr. Lee sign the agreement for the Truck Driving Training partnership. [Photo by Natasha Brown]