COLUMBUS — State Rep. Jack Cera (D-Bellaire) announced the release of $443,045 in state funding awarded to Belmont College and Eastern Gateway Community College (EGCC) through the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s (ODHE) Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills (RAPIDS) Grant program.

"The RAPIDS grant dollars invested in our regional institutions will help continue to connect workers to training and resources preparing them for careers in emerging and high-demand industries," Cera said. "These valuable educational opportunities will be critical as our friends and neighbors impacted by the current crisis prepare to reenter the workforce in roles that will contribute to the long-term success of their families as well as the economic recovery of Appalachian Ohio."

RAPIDS funding supports the development and improvement of occupational training programs enabling students and transitioning workers to pursue careers in the fastest growing segments of industry in Southeastern Ohio.

Both Belmont College and EGCC were awarded grant funding for the initial implementation of RAPIDS programming in 2016, and the Ohio Controlling Board approved requests for the purchase of additional technology and industrial equipment as part of a "Phase 2" expansion.

In the same meeting, the Controlling Board approved an Ohio Department of Health (ODH) request to increase their appropriation authority to utilize $8,556,587 in federal funds awarded to the State of Ohio as a result of the passage of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. Among other immediate priorities, ODH will use these approved funds to support local health departments and frontline health care workers in their efforts to contain and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 as well as increase the availability of coronavirus testing kits.