In this March 12, 2020, file photo, Maine Gov. Janet Mills speaks at a news conference at the State House in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

AUBURN, Maine — Gov. Janet Mills wants to invest some $35 million from federal coronavirus relief packages into workforce training programs through community colleges.

“This is all about workforce needs in Maine and preventing the brain drain we always complain about,” Mills said Wednesday while speaking in Auburn at Central Maine Community College.

“Stay here in Maine, come to Maine and get skilled up,” she said.

The funds will cover tuition and fees for an estimated 8,500 students who enroll in training programs to be set up by community colleges in the state, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The initiative is seeking to add 3,800 health care workers, 1,400 green economy workers, 500 hospitality workers and 500 early childhood teachers, Maine Community College System President Dave Daigler said.

The funds for workforce training are part of a more than $1 billion plan Mills announced at the beginning of the month to spend federal coronavirus relief money. The spending requires legislative approval and would likely need support from some Republicans.

Central Maine Community College Interim President Betsy Libby said the investment “would be a game-changer for all of our students.”

She pointed to a 12-week precision machine training academy in Auburn and Oxford as an example of the kind of training the proposed investment could fund. At the same time as students complete the course, they work at local businesses and get paid, she said.