New career center will seek to bring Northampton County to life ::

Northampton County leaders are hopeful that a new vocational training center could reinvigorate the region’s aging population and bring a younger generation to the rural county.

Community leaders announced the opening of the new facility earlier this week at a press conference in which they expressed concerns about the county’s future.

Census data shows the median age in Northampton is nearing 50 and increasing every year as the rural county has struggled to attract young people to settle there.

“As you’ve heard that the population ages, it means your workforce is aging,” said Franklin Williams, director of economic development for Northampton County. “And because the workforce is aging, it is difficult to fill positions in our local businesses. “

The vocational training center will be open to students of Northampton schools as well as adults in the area, and will offer cutting-edge certifications in a range of different jobs, including cosmetology, welding and electrical systems.

“Which means they won’t have to leave Northampton County, they can become employable and earn a viable and sustainable salary right here in our county,” said Williams.

WRAL News has moved into the new center, a former high school converted into a practical training laboratory.

Northampton County spent $ 841,000 in county funds and a grant to re-equip the center, in partnership with Roanoke-Chowan Community College.

More than 120 students had already applied for the chance to learn at the center in early December, and county leaders believed they were laying the groundwork for the future in Northampton.

“We’re putting things in place that are going to make a difference in your life, in the lives of your family, and to make sure you don’t have to leave Northampton County,” said Pamela Chamblee, former superintendent of Northampton County schools.

The first students are expected to start learning at the center in January.

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