Nearly $6.8M Ohio grant awarded to expand Laurel Oaks programming


Ohio Governor Mike DeWine recently announced that Great Oaks Career Campuses will receive nearly $6.8 million in funding to expand programming at its Laurel Oaks Career Campus in Wilmington.

“Career and technical education schools are in a unique position to help Ohio both meet the current demands in the labor market and prepare for future workforce needs,” said Great Oaks President/CEO Harry Snyder in a press release. “Great Oaks and our 36 partnering school districts are excited to have this opportunity to provide expanded programs at Laurel Oaks.”

The state budget approved by the Ohio Legislature and signed into law by DeWine in 2023 included $300 million allocated for trade schools statewide, and of that, $200 million was set aside for facilities and $100 million for equipment.

With a nearly $6.8 million infusion for Laurel Oaks, the campus will expand its existing Welding and Fabrication program, add a forward-looking Electric Vehicle Technician Support and Production program, and add a Law Enforcement program for high schoolers.

Welding & Fabrication

“Demand for our welding programs across the district exceed capacity,” said Snyder. “It’s a high-demand program serving a high-demand field.”

Laurel Oaks Career Campus had 63 applications for 24 available spots for this school year.

“More welders are needed in manufacturing, construction, infrastructure development, and the energy industry,” said Snyder. “This was reflected in the letters of support our proposal received from industry and community partners.”

This funding will allow Great Oaks to double the capacity of the Welding and Fabrication program at Laurel Oaks.

Electric Vehicle Technician Support and Production Program

The new Electric Vehicle (EV) Technician Support and Production program is designed to address emerging industries that will provide economic opportunities for students. The EV Honda-LG battery plant is under construction and located in Fayette County, part of Laurel Oaks’ service area. That one L-H Battery facility represents an investment in the billions of dollars and will create an estimated 2,200 jobs.

In his letter of support, L-H Battery Company CEO Robert H. Lee wrote how the Laurel Oaks program would “allow us to help develop and support a diverse future talent pool.”

Law Enforcement Program

A new Law Enforcement program at Laurel Oaks specifically addresses the struggle many of Ohio’s rural counties face finding qualified candidates in the law enforcement field.

“Recruitment, hiring and retention of the best law enforcement officers is critical for a safe, thriving community,” said Snyder. Laurel Oaks serves three counties (Clinton, Fayette and Highland) that have seen this challenge firsthand.

While this new program for high schoolers at Laurel Oaks is an introductory certification program, Great Oaks Public Safety Service programs provides a pathway for the district’s OPOTA Police Academy that earn the Ohio Peace Office Certification. The goal is to create a pipeline with law enforcement agencies to address these significant needs. Great Oaks Public Safety Services Police Academy is a designated STAR Academy by Ohio Attorney General David Yost.

About Great Oaks

With a territory spanning 2,200 square miles of southwest Ohio, and serving students through four campuses, Great Oaks is one of the largest career and technical education districts in the United States. More than 30 career fields are available in healthcare, information systems, advanced manufacturing, animal care, construction technology, robotics, culinary arts, and more.

Great Oaks enrolls 3,000-plus high school students on its four campuses from 36 affiliate districts, and over 18,000 secondary and middle school students through Great Oaks satellite programs embedded in schools throughout the region. In addition, there are over 13,000 adult students attending Great Oaks, training in a diverse array of fields.

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