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The National Association of Development Organizations (NADO) recently announced awards to recognize projects conducted by groups in North Carolina, including several innovative efforts by workforce development boards that are affiliated with regional councils of governments (COGs). Local workforce boards are key partners in the NCWorks system, along with the N.C. Department of Commerce and other agencies.

“Harnessing the power of local innovation is one of the core principles of Governor Cooper’s NC Job Ready initiative to prepare North Carolinians for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and these workforce boards exemplify that sort of innovation,” N.C. Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland said. “We congratulate our partners on this national recognition. Our local workforce boards help make North Carolina a leader in workforce development services to businesses, job seekers and communities.”

NADO Impact Awards for innovative workforce-related projects included:

  • Land of Sky Regional Council (Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties): The Mountain Area Workforce Development Board, which is affiliated with the Council, received recognition for “Mountain Area Careers,” an initiative that shares the career opportunities available in the region through a multitude of innovative approaches to connect youth and job seekers with employers. The board started "Mountain Area Careers" to promote its region's career pathways which lead to jobs that pay well. As part of this talent development and attraction strategy, the board has hosted groundbreaking hiring and career awareness events, while also producing a website and video series. Federal funds provided by the N.C. Department of Commerce supported the effort.
  • Lumber River Council of Governments (Bladen, Hoke, Richmond, Robeson and Scotland counties): The Lumber River Workforce Development Board, which is affiliated with the COG, was honored for its disaster recovery temporary employment program, which first began after Hurricane Matthew devastated the area in 2016. To help the area recover from the devastating hurricane, the board used federal funds secured by the N.C. Department of Commerce to provide dislocated workers with temporary jobs at local nonprofits and government agencies. Just as the board was closing out that grant, it began a new, similar effort in the wake of Hurricane Florence, which is currently ongoing. Leveraging strong community partnerships, the board has placed workers with organizations making repairs and providing humanitarian assistance to storm-damaged areas, while providing employment and/or job training to 778 individuals.
  • Mid-East Commission (Beaufort, Bertie, Hertford, Martin and Pitt counties): The Region Q Workforce Development Board, in partnership with the Commission, was recognized for the Community Connections Network, an initiative to “asset map” critical resources associated with services across the five-county region, including education, economic development, utilities, workforce development, and private industry. The network is associated with a “unified communications plan,” which has received an NCWorks Local Innovation Fund grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce. Partners aim to support economic and workforce development by strengthening collaborative partnerships across the region.
  • Mid-East Commission: The Region Q Workforce Development Board also received an award for its key role in the Regional Advanced Manufacturing Pipeline for Eastern North Carolina, or “RAMP East.” Supported by the N.C. Department of Commerce, this regional sector partnership is addressing the workforce needs for local advanced manufacturing industries. In collaboration with the neighboring Turning Point Workforce Development Board, Region Q wrote grants to secure funding for RAMP East, helped bring together stakeholders to launch the initiative, and provides day-to-day programmatic oversight of the project. RAMP East involves a level of collaboration among employers, economic developers, education, and workforce development partners that is unique in North Carolina.
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council (Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Montgomery, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties): The Council and its associated Piedmont Triad Regional Workforce Development Board were honored for their role in the Triad Talent Alignment Strategy (TTAS). The TTAS is a regional venture with the purpose of ensuring that various education and workforce development efforts are coordinated and aligned with the needs of employers. Ultimately, the project aims to create the next-generation workforce that the Piedmont Triad needs to propel its economy forward. Recognizing that talent is the key to 21st-century economies, the TTAS provides a framework for coordinating efforts within the Piedmont Triad based on specific, regional research and with input from primary stakeholders in each community, educational institutions, economic and workforce development professionals, and other key leaders.
  • Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments (Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash, Northampton and Wilson counties): The Turning Point Workforce Development Board was recognized in conjunction with the COG for the Regional Simulation Partnership, which seeks to use virtual game simulations to increase youth interest in technical trades and/or “middle-skill” occupations, and then to provide links to related occupational training. The partners developed an online resource, the NC Simulation Station, to identify electronic software games that can help education and workforce trainers to explore career opportunities and their work environments. Students can play games that give them the virtual “experience” of owning a computer workshop, serving as an independent truck driver, working inside a car garage, running a farm-based business, serving as a transit business owner or bus operator, or serving as a heavy machine operator.

The NADO Impact Awards program honors members for their creative approaches to advancing regional community and economic development and improved quality of life. These projects have made significant impacts on their regions and demonstrate the diversity of services and program delivery provided by regional development organizations across the country. The 2019 class of award recipients consists of 100 projects from 66 organizations spanning 24 states. These projects will be recognized during NADO’s 2019 Annual Training Conference, scheduled for October 19-22 in Reno, Nevada.

A Workforce Development Board is a group of community leaders appointed by local elected officials and charged with planning and oversight responsibilities for workforce programs and services in their area. By law, a majority of each board is composed of private-sector representatives. In North Carolina, 23 local boards are responsible for developing local plans for the use of federal Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act funds, which are administered on the state level by the Department of Commerce’s Workforce Solutions division. For more information about North Carolina’s workforce development boards, visit www.ncawdb.org

 

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