EARLY — Central Texas Opportunities hopes to provide area citizens with no marketable skills a way out of poverty.

The Early Municipal Development Board was the first to hear Central Texas Opportunities pitch its plan for a new program Monday, promising a free five-week crash course in welding and meet the needs of area employers such as Solaris Oil Field Infrastructure.  

“Central Texas Opportunities is a non-profit that helps people transition out of poverty,” said Hannah Adams, CTO executive director. “A good way to do that is to give them the skills to get a job. One of the skills that is needed in this area is welding … We’re proposing to assist 33 individuals into fast-track welding. When you meet with employers here, they need welders and they need them now.”

Adams said the proposed class would be from five to six weeks and utilize the welding equipment out of Brownwood High School. The program would be partially funded by the Texas Workforce Commission, which she estimated at $69,300. Adams said the city of Early as well as the city of Brownwood could split the remaining $31,314 needed to fund the program.

“Brownwood [MDD] said they would potentially be able to do half of that $31,614, leaving another $15,807. We’re asking the Early [MDD] if they would considering paying that portion,” Adams said. “I can’t guarantee the people that finish this class will go to work in Early, but if they put their heads here at night, or their wives shop here, they will be spending their money here.”

Adams said CTO would work with Ranger College, who has instructors with experience teaching fast-track classes. She proposed the program would run in three rounds with each round of courses catering 11 students. Upon completing the program she expects whoever joins to quickly join the workforce and put his or her skills into action.

“Dixon (Bailey, Ranger College executive vice president) and I were speaking earlier and once this model is up and going it’s a small investment for this being around year after year,” Adams said. “It’s a good way to have good training for people to get out of poverty quickly. If you know a welder, then you know they’re making money. They’re not looking for handouts. They’re looking for ways to put money back into the economy.”

Early city officials listed CTO’s proposal on the agenda for Tuesday’s city council meeting, expecting it to go before the council. Instead, MDD officials tabled the issue until they could speak with management at Solaris Oil Field Infrastructure – one of the businesses Adams consulted - in order to verify their $15,807 investment is something that would benefit area citizens and employers.