North Camden's Respond Inc to expand auto tech program with full service repair shop

Residents in North Camden will have a full-service car repair shop in their neighborhood next year thanks to a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to the nonprofit human-services agency Respond Inc.

Respond, which operates an auto-tech program in North Camden, will convert a 4,000-square-foot storage room on 8th amd Erie streets to a shop. Respond executive director Wilbert Mitchell expects many of its 15 employees to be graduates of the agency’s program.

Many trainees are high school dropouts who lacked job skills, said Mitchell, who believes the program and shop are integral to the revitalization of North Camden.

Respond also has a GED program onsite to allow its high school dropout trainees to complete their diploma. Some end up going to college and pursuing further degrees in auto mechanics.

Revenue from the shop will help pay for the training, Mitchell said. The facility is expected to be completed by spring.