Town of Lane pic

Town of Lane Mayor Charlie Fulton (left) and business owner Kerry Wilson stand in what they see as a business incubation center. The former Oneita building, where the Town of Lane Town Hall is located, is currently the focus of a future training center for the trades.                                                                       by Michaele Duke

Having basic skills in the construction business can open doors for many people and  Lane Mayor Charlie Fulton has plans to make those skills available in his hometown. Fulton is working with business owner and Lane native Kerry Wilson to open a training center that will address masonry, electrical, flooring, roofing and other trade focused careers. The facility will be in the former Oneita building, where the Lane Town Hall is located.

Fulton has been busy. For the past several years he has been negotiating with industries to settle in the area. The idea to offer a place to train for the trades came to Fulton when he worked at the Kingstree Housing Development. He was looking to renovate 140 units but couldn’t find local contractors and subcontractors that were certified in electrical, painting, flooring, and other trades. “When we tried to find subs we’d have to go outside the county to find certified subcontractors,” said Fulton.

He reached out to Lane native and businessman Kerry Wilson. “We understand the trades is what fed a lot of families back in the day,” said Fulton. “People got certified and fed their families and sent their kids to college.” Fulton said he’s ready to return to the trades, teach young people and get them certified in order to qualify for federal contracts.

Wilson said the primary curriculum that they will offer is our Construction Technology. Training consists of residential and commercial construction. Heavy equipment operations training and CDL training will also be offered. In addition the program will cover masonry, framing, roofing, HVAC, concrete, and landscaping.

The pair has initiated an inmate re-entry program with the Federal Correctional Institute and other agencies and are developing partnerships with other Williamsburg County inter-agencies to work with inmates coming home from prison, those who are chronically unemployed, under-employed, high school dropouts and those seeking to learn a new trade regardless of their current occupation. “Everything that we’re doing here is a pipeline into that program,” said Fulton.

Wilson said successful participants would be certified through NCCR. “It’s one of the premier certifications for the construction industry,” said Wilson. “We have one program that pretty much covers everything from flooring to drywall, to electrical and plumbing.” He said there are separate programs in each of the categories. “So if someone doesn’t want to go through the six-month program, they can do a six-week program.”

Wilson, who is the Director for the Lane Construction Ready Training Program and President and CEO of SC Excellence Management & Training, LLC, is operating the training program as a private entity in partnership with the Town of Lane. He said they also plan to open a business incubation program to teach people how to start, run and maintain businesses. “With this incubator, combined with the certifications that they are going to receive, will give them the opportunity to start their own business,” he said. Soft skills such as how to dress for an interview and write a resume will also be available.

Once Fulton and Wilson become certified training partners through the Workforce Investment Opportunity Act, funding will be available for training the enrollees. Fulton is also submitting grants to the Department of Labor for funding and other agencies can provide additional funding. “What we’re doing here is more of a community building project, because there’s a lot of things coming down the pipeline,” said Wilson. “This gives us an opportunity to actually create a workforce for these projects and the workforce we want to create is a workforce that will be able to sustain themself, not just on minimum wage jobs, but opportunities that are going to pay them a good living wage.”

The training center is expected to open sometime in August. “One of the things I’ve always had in the back of my mind is we have people who ride on that beach bus,” said Fulton referring to citizens who work out of town and spend hours traveling via the transit system. “Getting them certified in these kinds of areas can keep them closer to home.”

For more information contact Fulton at (843) 387-5151 or Wilson at (803) 862-2367 or email him at kwilson@scdbg.com.