WASHINGTON, N.C.— The Cannon Foundation awarded $99,000 for equipment for Beaufort County Community College’s new boatbuilding program. The new program provides nine diplomas and certificates to future or current employees in the boatbuilding industry. The program is currently housed in the Beaufort County Skills Center on Page Rd.

BCCC began the boatbuilding program in 2021, with the first cohort of students starting in August. The college created the program in response to high demand for qualified employees from local boat manufacturers, with a specific need for training around composite boat construction, including laying fiberglass and gelcoat, and rigging boats with plumbing and electrical systems and engines.

Until the start of the program, BCCC had collaborated with boat manufacturers through customized training conducted onsite at manufacturing operations through the Division of Continuing Education. With the start of the new program, BCCC has started to transform the vacant space at the Beaufort County Skills Center into a hands-on classroom, but this requires the purchase of equipment that will match technologies that students will encounter in the field.

The Beaufort County Committee of 100 offered the use of the Skills Center to the college rent-free for two years. With generous support from Beaufort County, BCCC plans to build a new facility on campus during that time to house the program. The Golden LEAF Foundation provided funding to cover the salary of a new instructor for one year and to purchase other equipment.

The grant from The Cannon Foundation will support the purchase of resin infusion equipment, sanders and a dust collection booth, an outboard engine and rigging, a trailer, and the installation of a spray booth. This equipment will help students learn and practice the skills required with rigging and constructing composite boats.

The shorter curriculums of diplomas and certificates mean that students can enter the workforce faster or take less time away from their careers. BCCC’s boatbuilding program also aligns with Beaufort County School’s program, helping recent high school graduates to quickly earn a valued credential.

The Cannon Foundation had previously funded the replacement of HVAC systems at BCCC for the Student Services Building and the Advanced Manufacturing Building. The independent foundation was established in 1943 by Charles A. Cannon, president and chairman of Cannon Mills Company for more than 50 years. Cannon was born in Concord, NC and built the Cannon Mills Company into a household name. A main focus of the foundation is supporting higher education.