Iowa community colleges awarded grants to expand CDL training

Kim Reynolds
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to the North Scott Rotary club on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022. CREDIT DAVE THOMPSON

Ten community colleges across Iowa, including Eastern Iowa Community College, are receiving state grants to help efforts to grow the labor pool of truck drivers. 

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced in a news release Thursday, Oct. 19, that the state’s Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Infrastructure Grant program is awarding $4,844,092 to support the colleges with new equipment and the creation/remodeling of driver training facilities. 

In the Quad Cities region, EICC will receive $797,000 — the second-largest grant amount — to expand its CDL training programs. 

According to information from Iowa Workforce Development, EICC will use the grant for site preparation and pouring of three DOT-approved training ranges in Davenport and for establishing a new training site in Muscatine. 

EICC operates campuses in Bettendorf, Davenport, Muscatine and Clinton. The new facilities will triple EICC’s capacity for CDL students. 

The project also will include the acquisition of four tractor-trailer combinations equipped with modern Electronic Logging Devices and reduce training time from seven weeks to four, the release said. 

With the new investments statewide, the community colleges could see an estimated total increase of 1,305 program participants in their annual class size. 

“The pathway to finding a job as a truck driver, one of our most-needed occupations, runs through getting a CDL license,” Ms. Reynolds said in announcing the awards. “It’s important that we do everything we can to not only make it easier for individuals to obtain these licenses, but also to support the long-term viability of the programs that made it possible to gain that experience right here in Iowa.”

Grant funds will help support the building, purchasing or remodeling of training infrastructure that prepares drivers for meeting CDL requirements. Funds will be administered as reimbursement, and programs must offer competency-based training courses and/or a training course that would allow someone to complete training and take the licensing exam within a 30-day window. 

Colleges receiving grant funds also have agreed to a five-year tuition freeze for their CDL programs once projects from this award are complete.
In addition to EICC, other Iowa CDL Infrastructure Grant recipients and their awards include: 

  • Des Moines Area Community College, $1 million, to renovate and update the Transportation Institute. 
  • Hawkeye Community College, $1 million, to expand its Regional Transportation Training Center. 
  • Iowa Lakes Community College, $240,000, to start a new CDL training program.
  • Iowa Valley Community College, $68,840, to allow it to partner with West Marshall School District to offer Class B CDL training. 
  • Iowa Western Community College, $214,500, to expand and enhance services and upgrade training equipment.  
  • Northeast Iowa Community College, $265,000, to expand its current program and purchase tractor-trailer systems. 
  • Northwest Iowa Community College, $301,000, to expand its CDL Train and Test CDL program as well as acquire new vehicles and add staff. 
  • Southwest Iowa Community College, $665,000, to help support an addition to the Agricultural Sciences Center for the program. 
  • Western Iowa Tech Community College, $214,500, to increase the number of students in its Entry Level Driver Training.

The new grants are part of the state’s collective effort over the past two years to expand training opportunities and widen pathways to Iowa’s high-demand jobs

“Increasing the CDL pipeline is crucial to sustaining and improving our economy. We are chronically short of drivers, and Governor Reynolds’ continued investment in our community colleges should help accomplish this goal,” Beth Townsend, executive director of Iowa Workforce Development, said in the release.

“This investment today will also give Iowa employers a leg up in recruiting more individuals in our state who have a CDL and are workforce ready,” she said.  

For more information on Iowa’s CDL grant program, visit this website.

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