MECC Receives Grant for New Machining Program, Expansion of CDL Training

Big Stone Gap – Mountain Empire Community College (MECC), in coordination with Komatsu and its manufacturing facility in Duffield, Virginia, will launch a new precision machining program thanks to a $419,732 grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.

The grant, which was announced in October 2022, will also provide for the expansion of the college’s existing Commercial Driver’s License program allowing more students to complete this high-demand credential. Both the machining and CDL training programs are housed at MECC’s Center for Workforce and Innovation of Appalachia (CWIA).

In response to industry demand and unfilled jobs in the region, Komatsu approached MECC with a need for skilled machinists at their Duffield manufacturing facility. MECC agreed to develop a precision machining program that would train students in advanced computerized design and lathe machinery. Komatsu agreed to help support the program with equipment and consumable needs.

The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission will provide funding to modify the CWIA to support the installation of machining equipment. The grant will also provide funding to upgrade a part-time CDL instructor to full-time, allowing for an additional four cohorts of students annually.

“We are appreciative of the Tobacco Commission in recognizing the need and providing the support that enables MECC to quickly meet the precision machining workforce needs of employers in our region,” said MECC President Kristen Westover. “Komatsu has been a strong partner with MECC in helping develop and support the precision machining program with equipment and supplies. We are excited to build the precision machining program that creates direct opportunities for graduates to work and live locally and earn family-sustaining income. We also recognize the need for trained CDL drivers in the region and are excited to support space in our program for additional students.”

“Partnering with MECC to develop this new program to train and educate upcoming generations honors Komatsu’s global commitment to the sustainability and future of our communities,” said Blaine Farmer, global director of operations for Komatsu. “Through educational initiatives such as this one, we hope that future interns and graduates will consider the good, family-sustaining jobs available at our Duffield, Virginia, manufacturing site. “

Located in Big Stone Gap, MECC is celebrating its 50th year serving students in Wise, Lee, Scott, and Dickenson Counties and the city of Norton. MECC serves more than 1,300 full time students, and more than 3,000 part-time or non-credit students in a variety of academic and career -technical programs. Learn more about MECC’s program offerings at

For more information on the precision machining program, please contact the MECC Office of Public Relations, at 276-523-7480.