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Campbell Soup, PJC partner for $499,984 Job-Training Grant

Published or Revised November 21, 2017

Campbells Soup Check Signing

On October 25, 2017, TWC Director of Employer Initiatives Aaron Demerson presented a $499,984 Skills Development Fund Grant check to representatives from Campbell Soup Company and Paris Junior College. Shown from left are Demerson, PJC Vice President for Workforce Education John Spradling, PJC Board of Regents Chairman Curtis Fendley, Workforce Solutions Northeast Texas Executive Director Randy Reed, Campbell Soup Senior Director of Operations Brett Dunson, Campbell Soup Training and Organizational Effectiveness Manager Terese Kane, State Representative Dr. Gary VanDeaver, HD 1, and PJC Director of Workforce Training Bettye Finnell.

Campbell Soup Company has partnered with Paris Junior College to provide job training using a $499,984 Skills Development Fund grant from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). The grant will benefit workers in the Northeast Texas area.

“It is exciting to have Campbell Soup and Paris Junior College partnering to enhance manufacturing skills for workers which are essential in maintaining economic growth in the Northeast Texas area,” said state Rep. Gary VanDeaver. “These things don’t just fall out of the sky; it takes a lot of work to put this thing together. A year ago the people of Lamar County showed a great faith in Paris Junior College and this is a reward for that. PJC is so important and this is why. When our good folks at Campbell Soup or our other industries need job training, this is where they come and it’s so important that we make sure that PJC is here for that. The partnership with the Workforce Commission is phenomenal. So thank you to the people of Paris for being visionary. A half a million dollars, that is phenomenal in today’s economy.”

“We are pleased to make this grant to Campbell’s and Paris Junior College, which will provide manufacturing training and help maintain a highly skilled workforce,” said TWC Commissioner Representing Employers Ruth R. Hughs. “This partnership focuses on specialized technical skills training needed to support this high-demand industry in the Paris area.”

Presenting the check on behalf of TWC was Aaron Demerson, Director of the Office of Employer Initiatives at the Texas Workforce Commission. In this position he provides leadership and direction to engage employers, business organizations and the economic development community in the ongoing development of a customer-focused, market-driven workforce system.

Prior to employment at the Texas Workforce Commission he served as a Senior Advisor to Governor Rick Perry and Executive Director of the Economic Development & Tourism Division in the Governor’s Office leading a team that marketed the State of Texas as a premier destination for both business and travel.

“We don’t take it for granted when a company locates here,” said Demerson. “You are either retaining jobs or expanding and we want to make sure the State of Texas is in a position to take advantage of that. We extend our thanks you, Brett [Dunson], and Campbell Soup to do this training. In Texas we refer to it as the secret sauce, but it’s not that secret when your elected officials are involved, like Rep. VanDeaver and Sen. Bryan Hughes, that means a lot, and you have the college that’s involved. Not only that, you have folks at the company-level are involved, and economic development corporations like the one you have here with Mike Paris. That makes a big difference when you bring these people together, when you have workforce, economic development and education working together, that’s the recipe for success. That’s what makes Texas strong.”

“On behalf of the Campbell Soup family I want to say ‘thank you’ to the Workforce Commission and the community,” said Brett Dunson, Senior Director of Operations at Campbell Soup. “Training is vital and important to the longevity of our operations. We are in a very competitive environment in packaged food. Building capability is key to our survival. It’s not only the new technology coming in, it’s also bringing new people in. Campbell Soup has benefitted from the TWC for a number of years because we’ve been able to do a lot of expansion at the facility. This time next year we’ll be starting a new line. We’re always looking for more lines, more operations and therefore more jobs. I’m glad we have that partnership. Support from the community is key and it’s heard at the Campbell headquarters in Camden, NJ.”

The $499,984 grant will be used to provide customized training to 486 new and incumbent (current) workers for industry-related topics with focused instruction on ammonia refrigeration, boiler equipment, case packing and rotary pressure sterilizer training. Trainees will include inspection and quality technicians, safety technicians, team leaders, operation workers, filling and packing machine operators, maintenance workers, electronics mechanics, warehouse worker, production supervisors, and warehouse receiving leaders. Upon completion of training, the workers will receive an average wage of $22.41.

“This grant means four hundred and eighty-six new or upgraded jobs in the community and an investment of almost a half a million dollars,” said PJC Vice President of Workforce Education John Spradling. “We are extremely grateful for our corporate partners and look forward to doing more of this work with our other corporate partners in the community.

I’m fortunate that the Board of Regents and President allow me to work with the business and industry of this community and of our service area. I get to see the advantages that we provide young people and the opportunities that these companies give them for a future and being able to stay home. We hope to continue to do that for Northeast Texas.”

Since its inception in 1996, the Skills Development Fund grants have created or upgraded more than 342,428 jobs throughout Texas. The grants have assisted 4,238 employers with their customized training needs. The Legislature allocated $48.5 million to the Skills Development Fund for the 2016-17 biennium. Employers seeking more information about the Skills Development Fund may visit the TWC website at

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