New regional leader in workforce training, economic development
by Jack Criss
DBJ Contributing Writer
Mississippi Delta Community College (MDCC) named Douglas Freeze as its new Vice President of Workforce and Economic Development in January of this year. Freeze came to MDCC from Northwest Mississippi Community College in Senatobia, where he served as Director of Workforce Solutions and Community Services.
A veteran of the Mississippi community college system, Freeze has served in several capacities over the past 12 years and has worked in higher education for almost 20 years.Freeze’s office and base of operation is at the Capps Center in Indianola where he focuses most of his attention.
“I am beyond excited to join the MDCC family,” said Freeze, upon his arrival. “The outflowing of support by everyone during this transition period has been amazing, and I am fortunate to have an excellent Workforce Education team at the Capps Center. All of the key pieces are in place so we can help our communities to dream big, plan well, and be anything–it’s truly an ideal job.
MDCC President Dr. Tyrone Jackson says he is excited about having someone with Freeze’s experience to lead workforce and economic development at MDCC.
“I’m very proud to welcome Mr. Freeze as our new Vice President of Workforce and Economic Development,” said Jackson, upon Freeze’s hiring. “With his abundance of experience and educational background, there is no doubt in my mind that he will be a valuable asset to MDCC and the Delta. We look forward to the great work he will do as part of the MDCC family.”
The Capps Technology Center houses the Workforce Education Division of MDCC and is strategically located at the geographical center of the seven-county service area of MDCC. For economic development, the Capps Technology Center is a local forum and resource for all local industrial development groups to meet and promote regional economic development. Its primary purpose is to focus on the training, education, and skills improvement needs of business and industry in the region by offering short-term classes, customized training solutions for business and industry, nationally-recognized certifications, and job readiness training for those entering the workforce.
“A friend of mine suggested I apply for the position,” recalls Freeze of how he got his new job, “and I really was not looking for anything new but the pieces fell into place after I threw my hat in the ring. Even when I went to my interview at the Capps Center, it just all felt right. I have a great team on board and we’re doing great things here.”
The Capps Center is a regional, and state, leader in workforce development programs, says Freeze. “As the workforce arm of MDCC, we support the economic development of the seven county area in the school’s district,” says Freeze. “Our focus now is primarily on short-term, pre-employment training. And, honestly, it’s thrilling to see all of the activity that is going on here at the Center. One night our security guard even joked to me that our parking lot wasn’t big enough!
“We have many outstanding programs ongoing right now, including a pole yard in the back of the facility used in training fiber cabling workers, for example,” continued Freeze. “We have welding programs ongoing, various medical classes and programs, coding, pharmacy tech–a wide variety of subjects and disciplines. We have classrooms, computer labs, shops, hands-on carperntry, electrical and construction areas–it’s impressive. We also just started a new plumbing program that we just launched through some donations we received and I’m proud to say several females have joined that class,” he says.
Freeze says that, this summer, the Center is running a fiber tech program and a general construction program. “The vast majority of our programs run from January until May and from August to December,” he notes. “Fall classes this year will start August 14 and we’re expecting a strong turnout. We’re turning out well-trained students who can enter good careers in fields that always have demand and will always be in demand. Employment-ready students are our goals, and not only are they trained well, we also provide classes in the interview process,” says Freeze. “We’re even in the process of preparing solar farm workers in the future since that’s becoming such a major trend here and across the nation.”
Freeze says the Capps Center also works alongside various private and non-profit entities to further their mission, such as Upchurch Plumbing in Greenwood and the Community Foundation of Northwest Mississippi, as just two examples. “Keith Fulcher and his group at CFNW, and the leadership of Upchurch and also Southern Pipe have been instrumental in assisting us in various programs, especially the new plumbing program,” says Freeze. “It’s really all about partnerships and we’re fortunate to have them.
“We’re also working hard to build relationships with all of the economic developers across our region,” adds Freeze. “I’ve been meeting with them and the goal is to get a regional approach for the Capps Center and to find out what these leaders need and expect from us. A new grant from the Delta Regional Authority for MDCC will also be announced soon which will enable us to start a computer networking program at Moorhead called ‘New Crest.’ We also received a grant, through our partnership with the Mississippi Community College Board, that came from DRA as well for the Delta Aviation Project to support the Greenville Mid-Delta Airport and work with Mr. Ronnie Kearns and the Greenville Kearns Aviation Maintenance program, so that will be a new part of our training. A lot is going on,” says Freeze. “And that’s a good thing!”