SOUTH PORTLAND, ME – FEBRUARY 10: Southern Maine Community College in South Portland Thursday, February 10, 2022. (Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer) Shawn Patrick Ouellette

Due to the recent federal omnibus funding bill, Maine’s community colleges will receive over $8 million, including over $1.75 million for Southern Maine Community College.

About $750,000 will go to the college’s new electric vehicle repair certification program and $1 million of the funding will go to a new facility and certificate program in greenhouse management and horticulture.

The electric vehicle industry is growing rapidly in Maine as well as nationally. According to the Maine Climate Council, more than half of Maine’s carbon emissions are due to transportation. Electric vehicle use is an important strategy in combatting transportation-related emissions, as noted in Maine Won’t Wait, the state’s 2020 climate action plan.

“There are already so many EVs on the road, and there are going to be many more over the next few years,” SMCC Automotive Technology chair Ruth Morrison said. “The need for a workforce to repair new vehicles and the growth of the second and third owner repair markets will only keep growing. This project will keep our space updated and technology current to meet those needs.”

On a national level, the 2021 Infrastructure Law sets a goal of creating 500,000 EV charging stations by 2030 and includes $7.5 billion for infrastructure. The 2022 Inflation Reduction act also provides a large amount of funding for EV infrastructure. Many major vehicle companies have pledged to transition to EVs, most within 10 years.

In South Portland, a new ordinance went into effect in December to gradually introduce EV systems equitably and economically. EVs are set to be an important industry going forward.


In 2019, SMCC founded its Electric Vehicle Repair Certification program, the first in Maine.

“Southern Maine Community College has built a stellar reputation within Maine’s EV community in a very short period,” SMCC’s Dean of Workforce Development and Midcoast Campus Jim Whitten said. “This funding will allow developing SMCC students to help ease the critical staffing needs in the rapidly changing industry while helping Maine consumers maintain their investments to help the environment. The program will allow us to contribute to helping Maine reach the goal of having 30,000 clean energy jobs by 2030.”

Controlled Environment Agriculture is also a rising industry. The field utilizes a technology-based approach towards agriculture and food production. Controlled Environment Agriculture uses science and technology to optimize agriculture systems for quality and production efficiency.

“A new state-of-the-art greenhouse will be the jewel of the system,” Whitten said. “The ability to develop training based on year-round plant growth in a state with challenging weather patterns will be a game-changer for the industry and SMCC students. This project will immediately impact the needed workforce with a new Greenhouse Certificate program, workforce skills training, and several industry workshops. The students who leave SMCC will support nearly 30,000 Maine jobs and $600 million of direct economic impact.”

The new greenhouse will be constructed on SMCC’s Midcoast Campus in Brunswick.

“With the new greenhouse, SMCC students will help Maine businesses participate in the sustainable agricultural processes,” SMCC Horticulture Chair Cheryl Rich said. “We will be able to train our students in year-round, controlled environment agriculture that will help significantly contribute viability to support state-grown produce and products. We have also partnered with Midcoast-area food banks, ensuring produce grown on campus will help Mainers in need.”


Southern Maine Community College President Joe Cassidy discussed the value of the programs.

“These two projects will help us to meet our goal of helping improve the lives of Maine’s hardworking people through increased skills in high-demand jobs,” Cassidy said. “The training will put our students in the workforce of several industries that make meaningful differences in our region.”

Due to other federal funding projects, the University of Maine has received $8 million to create three new manufacturing training centers. Two of these centers will be at SMCC, one at each campus of South Portland and Brunswick.

“Our partnership with the University of Maine will help us train students to improve manufacturing efficiency throughout the region, making a positive impact on Maine’s economy to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars,” Cassidy said.

Other community colleges throughout the state also benefitted from the federal funding. Northern Maine Community College received a $2.2 million investment for a new wind turbine safety training program.

Other community colleges receiving federal funding are York County Community College, Eastern Maine Community College, Kennebec Valley Community College, and Central Maine Community College.

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