Local Educators Visit China to Discuss TPCO Training

TIANJIN, China (Kiii News) - The Chinese pipe factory going up near Gregory is set to be up and running by early 2014. Its economic impact is expected to be incredible, with a workforce of 600-800 employees.

Now, the planning to train those employees is well underway.

This week a team of top educators, led by Del Mar College President Mark Escamilla, is in Tianjin, China, for discussions on training. Kiii News Anchor Joe Gazin is traveling with them.

For the top educators from the Coastal Bend, it has definitely been an eye-opening experience.

Escamilla was joined by Del Mar Executive Director Lenora Keas, Craft Training Center President Anne Matula, Dr. Luis Cifuentes , a vice president at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, and the director of the new TPCO pipe making facility near Gregory, J.J. Johnston. All of them went to the bustling port city of Tianjin, China, to essentially learn what role their institutions can play as this brand new industry comes to South Texas, courtesy of TPCO America.

When the plant near Gregory, "Project G" as they once called it, for "great," comes online, it will produce some three and a half million tons of seamless pipe every year. It is a product that's in high demand in the oil and gas industry.

TPCO's main plant is located in Tianjin. The one in South Texas will be smaller, more modern, and will operate in strict compliance with federal OSHA standards; but providing the training for a workforce of about 800 people is what took these educators to China. They said it is the sort of training that, in some cases, already exists.

The partnership between China and South Texas as the new pipe fitting facility opens up near Gregory offers unlimited possibilities. It's an opportunity to foster a brand new industry in South Texas, and a partnership the likes of which no one here can fully appreciate just yet. Beyond that, it's a chance for South Texas to make diplomatic inroads in a country whose influence in the coming decades cannot be ignored, or underestimated.


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