Oil and gas has driven Rangely's economy for a number of years, and now that development has spread to the local college campus.
The largest cash donation in Colorado Northwestern Community College history was announced Monday, as Shell Exploration and Production Co. pledged $600,000 to the school.
The money is designated to enhance Northwest Colorado workforce development, including training students in the field of energy exploration and production at the college's Rangely campus.
"These partnerships help shape the future of the college," CNCC President John Boyd said. "We're grateful for the generous support from a global energy interest such as Shell."
Boyd said the donation allows the college in Rio Blanco County to "jump-start" the program, and provides the needed workforce for the region.
The partnership also supports "hands-on" training and Shell internship opportunities for students.
By fall 2008, the Process Technology program will meet standards set by the Center for the Advancement of Process Technology, and graduates will receive Associate of Applied Science Degrees from the college.
"There is great opportunity here, with (Shell and CNCC) sharing common goals and interests," said Tracy Boyd of Shell Exploration and Production Co. "This is very exciting for us, and we're looking forward to the partnership."
Tracy Boyd said the money will help purchase equipment for the class, and it will also go toward student and faculty scholarships, helping instructors gain information on the program.
He said the program and curriculum lead directly to employment for residents, while attracting new workforce members to the region.
The first Process Technology classes started fall 2006 with a small class at the Rangely campus, and the college is also offering four online classes in the field.