The Salem R-80 Construction Trades Program has been selected as one of four finalists competing for a $15,000 Strong Communities Award through the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines.

The Bank of Salem, a FHLB Des Moines member, partnered with Sally Burbridge, economic development director for Salem and Dent County, and the Salem R-80 Construction Trades Program, to apply for the Strong Communities Award.

The program was formed due to a need in the community for careers not tied to four-year college due to the growing shortage of available laborers with construction knowledge, experience and licensure.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the broad category of construction trades provided well above average wages for the area and a positive future growth rate that would help ensure students with this training and experience would have available career paths in the future.

When the program launched in 2018, organizers hoped to have six students and grow to around 30 students in year five, but due to the success of the program there are now approximately 160 who have gone through the program since the programs launch.

The class is the springboard for future roofers, electricians, plumbers, painters, landscapers, masons and carpenters for our community and others. Students will become certified specialists in these areas, and as professionals will provide valuable, much needed services in home renovations, cabinet making, new construction, concrete work, furniture making and so much more. They will apply current code and safety regulations to their plans and projects and will learn to manage cost and schedules for on time, on budget delivery of a myriad of building and construction services.

The experience students gain in the field will provide the strong foundation required to pursue opportunities for advancement.

The Construction Trades program is taught and led by industry professional and teacher, A.J. Tinker. The program will provide students with a curriculum focused on skills attainment and long-term employment.

"The Salem R-80 Construction Trades Program focuses on providing hands on training in construction techniques and disciplines while providing a tool for rejuvenating the community,” said Tinker, who has been with the program since year one. “We strongly believe in the Salem R-80 Construction Trades Program’s mission, which has enhanced the lives of the community. I urge the public to go online and vote for this important project to win this year’s Strong Communities Award.”

The Construction Trades Program is fully funded through private donations, made directly through the Dent County Community Foundation. DCCF is part of the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, a public foundation serving the Missouri Ozarks.

The Salem R-80 Construction Trades Program has worked on eight houses. The projects have varied from remodeling, siding, decks to building a new garage.

The Salem R-80 Construction Trades Program is now working with the Salem Housing Authority beginning this semester to work on a home for the SHA’s Flipping for Community Betterment program. The SHA is self-funded, with $500,000 to invest in purchasing homes, rehabbing them, and putting them back on the market improved, and at prices working individuals can afford.

Moving forward, it is anticipated the program will be able to work with the City of Salem for potential new construction of homes and the community’s housing improvement efforts continue.

For more information on the Salem R-80 Construction Trades Program please contact AJ Tinker, Program Instructor at (573) 308-0431 or; Dustin Howard, Bank of Salem at 729-3137 or; or Sally Burbridge, Economic Development Director at (573) 453-6871 or