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Bismarck State College continues contract with Saudi Arabia

BISMARCK -- The president of Bismarck State College said the school will continue its partnership with Saudi Arabia to provide energy sector training to Saudi youth.

BSC president Larry Skogen said Tuesday, Oct. 23, that the college is "continuing as things have been in the past," despite news of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"We just have to watch carefully as these things unfold and whatever lead the United States and federal government, whose in charge of foreign policy, whatever they're doing," Skogen said.

Last month, BSC began its training program at the National Power Academy in Dammam after months of contract negotiations involving the Saudi government.

BSC signed a five-year agreement to provide curriculum and non-credit training to male high school graduates in Saudi Arabia.Over five years, the partnership is expected to generate $20 million for BSC, college officials previously estimated.

BSC established a limited liability company to oversee the program. The LLC hired 15 people to work at the National Power Academy, including Zak Allen, the project manager for BSC's National Energy Center of Excellence.

In 2014, the Saudi government and energy companies decided to establish the National Power Academy to fulfill workforce needs, reduce unemployment and support the country's ongoing efforts to become energy efficient.

Skogen said the killing of Khashoggi is concerning, but BSC will continue to move forward with its agreement with the institute.

"We're focused on educating the youth that we've been contracted to educate," he said.

The goal is to enroll 200 students at the National Power Academy this year. So far, BSC has already made a profit. Skogen said the college received a $500,000 prepayment this fall and will receive its first quarterly payment at the end of December.

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