The Central South Carpenters Regional Council has opened its newly built $12.5 million training facility in New Orleans. The 38,000 sq ft center officially opened in October and serves as the headquarters of the council, which represents Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

Jason Engels, CSCRC executive secretary and treasurer, says the facility features 23,000 sq ft of training space for carpenters and millwrights. It includes classrooms with iPad-enabled devices and LED televisions along with a training shop with 20-ft ceilings and overhead cranes for moving millwright equipment, pumps and compressors. The Training Center focuses on latest industry certifications along with education on technologies, tools, installation methods and safety.

Engels says the facility also features a mockup of a retail outlet center storefront for apprentices practice with metal stud framing and various ceiling types. In addition is a 3-ft-deep dirt pit for students to train on pile driving carpentry and form work. "It's a great training facility to help [students] learn virtually every aspect of carpentry from framing and pile driving to form and scaffolding construction," says Engels.

The facility is also the home of Central South Carpenters & Piledrivers Local 1846 and Southern States Millwrights Local 729, and a base for approximately 700 first year apprentices and journeyman upgrades.

Buquet & LeBlanc served as the general contractor on the project. Construction started in mid-2013 and was mostly completed in July 2015, says Engels. Some students were also employed by the contractor for work on the facility.

CSCRC's old facility on Japonica Street was flooded in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. While it was rebuilt in the following years, Engels said they had been seeking a new home to better serve the growing needs of the local skilled labor market.

"We changed things along the way of design and construction to really make it suitable for our training needs and help meet the [growing] needs of the local construction industry," says Engels.