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COMMUNITY NEWS: SOUTHWEST

CRENSHAW : Car-Repair Training Center to Open

April 25, 1993|ERIN J. AUBRY

The Los Angeles Urban League is opening its Automotive Training Center on Tuesday.

The $3-million vocational center, at 3833 S. Crenshaw Blvd., is funded by Toyota Motor Sales USA and will provide Central Los Angeles with training in entry-level automotive service and repair, as well as job placement assistance for graduates.

The facility offers training in a variety of repair and auto work, including brakes, tires and suspension, exhaust, accessory installation and detailing. The courses, which are free and available to all interested persons, will range from 45 to 120 days, depending on the area of study. Trainees will also be matched with employers for on-the-job training and eventual job placement.

The center plans to serve about 100 students a year, and has been recruiting unemployed and underemployed applicants for two months. The 17,000-square-foot center is the site of a former Oldsmobile/Isuzu dealership, one of several longstanding dealerships along Crenshaw that closed during the economic recession.

Urban League spokeswoman Regina Lemle said the center is a welcome addition to a community in dire need of job training and placement centers.

"After the unrest last year, Toyota approached us wanting to help," said Lemle. "They wanted to participate in making a positive impact on the community. This is an ongoing thing that will benefit people for years to come."

Bob Best, group vice president of Toyota and president of the repair center's board of directors, said he is pleased with the way the project has evolved. "We wanted to create an enterprise rather than just donate money," he said. "Community involvement was a priority. Our goal is to follow through and place 100% of graduates in good-paying jobs."

Best said he was pleased that several companies such as IBM and AT&T donated materials for the center, including phone systems, tools, hydraulic lifts, computers and signs. Though Toyota is currently operating the facility, the Urban League has agreed to assume ownership over a five-year period.

Best said he is optimistic about the program. "We received over 5,000 applications without having advertised," he said. "There's obviously a need for this . . . It's succeeded on school campuses. Why not South-Central?"

Information or applications: Automotive Training Center, P.O. Box 2991, Torrance 90509.

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