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News / Clark County News

Clark College receives $220K grant to train nLIGHT workers

State grant to help develop leadership at Camas company

By Griffin Reilly, Columbian staff writer
Published: August 26, 2023, 6:05am

Clark College announced Friday it has been awarded a $222,998 job skills grant to train employees of nLIGHT — a local tech manufacturer — in leadership training and team development.

The grant is funded through the Washington State Job Skills Program, which splits the cost of specialized trainings with respective employers at licensed institutions across the state.

“We are excited to partner with local businesses like nLIGHT to create relevant educational pathways that bolster the skills of our local workforce,” Clark College President Karin Edwards said in a news release. “Clark College has a long 90-year history of strengthening the Southwest Washington community through these partnerships, which are so integral to our community’s economic and educational vitality.”

nLIGHT specializes in manufacturing high-powered semiconductor lasers and fiber lasers for defense and aerospace applications. The company is based in Camas and has about 500 employees.

The funding will be used to provide 17 different trainings to 238 nLIGHT employees at their Camas location in lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, kaizen rapid improvement, Toyota Kata problem solving, team development, leadership skills, and document management.

Trainings will be completed by June 30, 2024.

Leaders from Clark and nLIGHT say the trainings will allow the company to remain competitive while bolstering local workforce in an advanced tech sector.

“We are pleased to extend our ongoing partnership with Clark College to facilitate additional training,” Chris Schechter, nLIGHT’s chief operating officer, said in the news release. “Funding from Clark College will enable us to invest further in lean manufacturing and develop employee skills that are critical to keep nLIGHT competitive today and well into the future.”

Clark recently also received state grants to develop a new surgical technician program and a center for clean energy, each of which are expected to help produce workers in emerging industries in Southwest Washington.

Ann Campbell, the school’s director of Community Continuing Education and Customized Training, called out to local businesses interested in pursuing similar state grants to provide employee trainings through Clark like nLIGHT’s. Interested businesses can reach out to Campbell at alcampbell@clark.edu.

More information about training programs can be found on Clark’s website at