TCC opens Alliance aviation center

A. Lee Graham

As aviation and logistics employment needs accelerate, an educated workforce will be required to fill positions in two of North Texas’ most rapidly growing industries. That’s where Tarrant County College comes in. Its newly opened Northwest Campus Center of Excellence for Aviation, Transportation and Logistics reflects the district’s desire to educate future pilots, aircraft mechanics and logistics professionals, which manage and track goods in and out of the state. “It was important for us to establish a center for aviation, transportation and logistics excellence in the Tarrant County College District because the need for transportation workers is continuing to grow,” said TCC Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley. Sharing that assessment was a Hillwood official. “It’s a huge step forward for the college, for AllianceTexas and for all of North Texas,” said Tom Harris, president of Alliance Air-Aviation Services, Hillwood Properties in North Fort Worth.

The facility, at 2301 Horizon Dr., welcomed its first students in August. That the newly opened three-story, 163,500-square-foot center occupies land at Fort Worth Alliance Airport is no coincidence. Hillwood, developer of the airport and the Alliance development, leaped at the chance to help the district consolidate its aviation training from its Northwest campus and Fort Worth Meacham Airport. But centralizing its existing aviation program was just the beginning, as a new pilot training program began this semester. “Having the facility at an airport is meaningful,” Harris said. “Now these young men and women [students] are in an environment that is more conducive to getting what they need.”

And that’s five associate degrees and 10 certificates now offered at the new center. Bell Helicopter set the stage for the new facility by selling the district its 161,000-square-foot military programs facility last year. Not only is it expected to educate what area educators expect to be future demand for aviation and logistics professionals, but it also could bring more businesses into Fort Worth and enrich the area with precious tax dollars, Harris said. For every FedEx and BNSF Railway that sets up shop at Alliance come staffing needs. An educated local workforce could play a critical role in persuading companies to lease or open facilities in the area, Harris said. And new employees would generate tax revenue by purchasing homes, eating in local restaurants and patronizing local retailers. “It’s just one more arrow in our quiver in a long list of amenities we can offer to a prospect when we are talking about the area,” Harris said. The district paid about $5.2 million to purchase 20 acres at the airport, which now features the aviation and logistics learning center. More than 900 students are enrolled in the district’s aviation program this semester.