Tester Announces Funding to Create Jobs and Improve Tribal Infrastructure

Blackfeet Community College to Receive $400,000 for Workforce Highway Construction Training Program

(U.S. Senate) – Senator Jon Tester proudly announced that Blackfeet Community College (BCC) will receive a $400,000 grant to strengthen the reservation’s infrastructure and put residents to work.

This award, which comes from the Federal Highway Administration’s Ladders of Opportunity Initiative, will fund the BCC’s Workforce Highway Construction Training Program.

“This grant will create jobs that employ local residents so they can strengthen their own communities,” said Tester, Vice Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee. “It’s projects like this that increase self-determination and empower Indian Country.”

The goal of the BCC’s Program is to provide local community members with job training in construction-related fields, so they can fill the growing number of jobs that have resulted from a recent increase in construction projects on the Blackfeet Reservation.

“With all the new construction happening around the reservation, we’re very excited about this award,” Dr. Billie Jo Kipp, President of Blackfeet Community College said. “This program will allow us to train our people and give them the necessary skills to fill these positions, creating jobs and opportunities for those who sorely need them.”

Dr. Kipp also noted that the program won’t just help Blackfeet residents master the construction trade, but also provide job training and other workforce skills like communications, teamwork, and organization. Kipp credited Dr. Cheri Kicking Woman, BCC’s Dean of Workforce Development; Cheryl Madman, Division Chair for Workforce Trades at BCC; and Lola Wippert, BCC’s NACTEP-STEM Director, for spearheading the proposal and the program.

The Ladders of Opportunity Initiative is a U.S. Department of Transportation initiative funded through the long term highway bill, which Tester helped pass in the Senate last year. Tester also secured provisions in the bill to increase funding for the Tribal Transportation Program, invest nearly $2.3 billion in transportation infrastructure across the state, and increase Montana’s highway funding by 5 percent in the first year.