Partners at the Table
It's not everyday that a new source of jobs that pay livable wages comes to Lake Providence. A few months ago, though, EPIC Piping announced that they are expanding their production and opening a new facility in East Carroll Parish, just south of Lake Providence at the port.
EPIC is a pipe fabrication facility, and in East Carroll, they'll produce pipe fittings that are needed at petrochemical refineries around the world. They aim to ultimately hire around 60 employees. Their general manager, who is guiding the opening of the Lake Providence operation, has reported that EPIC will hire about 20 employees in the first phase of their expansion, and another 40 or so in the second phase. The general manager has also noted that about 13 or 14 of these first twenty hires will be local people in East Carroll Parish.
Recently, Delta Interfaith (our local faith-based community organizing group) hosted a Community Assembly for Jobs at the East Carroll Baptist Association building. Sister Bernie Barrett and I and several local leaders invited EPIC's manager to attend and share his commitment to work with and hire East Carroll residents to the best of his ability.
We also invited other local job training organizations to attend and speak about their role in the wider process of educating local residents for jobs and workforce opportunities. Leaders from Delta Community College, the Lake Providence Chamber of Commerce, Workforce Development, NOVA, and other local, elected officials came and voiced their support for these new developments in East Carroll.
It was an exciting evening, and many officials remarked their surprise at Interfaith's ability to turn out around 100 people. It was good to celebrate EPIC's opening, but it was also important for residents to have an organized body through which we could stand together and hold accountable those community partners whose responsibility it is to assist in the job training process. In many impoverished communities, it is not uncommon for larger conglomerates to locate or open a facility precisely because they assume there will be little local oversight or accountability.
I was very proud to be part of this group and the many, many face-to-face meetings and phone calls that took place to organize such an event. As I've said before, and as previous TFH directors in Lake Providence have said, there are committed, dedicated leaders in East Carroll, and our recent meeting showed this in yet another way. Pray for us in our work and as we continue to build a partnership with EPIC.