Alabama Governor Bentley, DRA: Opportunity ripe to Strengthen Workforce

July 23, 2014

Leaders Convene Key Stakeholders, Announce $1.7 Million Investment into Reimagining Workforce Development

Report Identifies Strategies for Local Leaders to create Workforce System that Prepares and Connects Workers for the Jobs of the Future

CHATOM, Ala. – Delta leaders must take advantage of opportunities to align our state workforce development systems to better prepare its workers for the jobs of today and tomorrow, Delta Regional Authority Federal Co-Chairman Mike Marshall and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley said today. The recommendation comes after a recent report found that current training programs, while individually successful, are not adequately systemized to identify, prepare, and connect workers to well-paying, available jobs.

The Delta Regional Authority, Governor Bentley, and the Washington County Economic Development Institute hosted key business, higher education, and government leaders from across the region at the Reimagining the Delta Workforce: Alabama Summit.  The summit focused on identifying innovative steps to strengthen the links between education centers, skills and jobs. 

“Just like the flow of the Mississippi River, the Delta economy is constantly changing – and our workforce training needs to change with it. Working with our state partners, we are committed to enhancing the system of how we train our workers and connect our people to the jobs of the future,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Christopher Masingill. “This initiative is aimed at strengthening our workforce, encouraging lifelong learning, and increasing the standard of living in the region.”

In conjunction with the summit, the Delta Regional Authority announced a $1.7 million investment into overhauling the region’s workforce development initiatives. The investment program will provide awards for technical assistance and capacity building for communities to align and connect various stakeholders in workforce development to strengthen the overall workforce system. The Notice of Funding Availability for the DRA Workforce Development Program is available on DRA.gov.

“When the recession hit, the Delta economy–and Delta families and businesses–took a hit. But as we always have and always will, we need to bounce back. That begins with making sure our people have the skills they need to get the jobs they want,” said DRA Alternate Federal Co-Chairman Mike Marshall. “This summit will bring together the necessary leadership and players who can transform our successful workforce development programs into state and regional workforce pipelines that ensure we’re connecting people, skills, and jobs.”

“This event is a positive step forward to help recognize workforce development issues in our county, state, and region,” said Austin Monk, Director of Washington County Economic Development Initiative. “Acting on the issues presented today by Ted Abernathy and our other speakers will help our economic development, workforce development, and industry stakeholders to move Washington County and the Alabama Black Belt in the right direction for our future.”

The summit follows the release of the Report on the Future of the South: Re-imagining Workforce Development. The comprehensive report acknowledges that the recession has amplified challenges in the Delta and identifies an increasingly competitive talent pool, changing life-cycles, and the rapid pace of the global marketplace as the driving forces behind the shifting workplace environment. Specifically, the report encourages workforce development leaders to strengthen the connection between education and job skills, advance online learning opportunities and certificate programs, and create a culture of lifelong learning from early childhood through adulthood.

The Alabama summit is the first of a series of eight state-specific summits during July, August, and September. More information about the summits is available on DRA.gov.

###

About the Delta Regional Authority 

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership that is congressionally mandated to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives in the 252 counties and parishes of the Delta. Through twelve cycles of federal investment, the Authority is helping to create and retain more than 41,000 jobs and has leveraged $2.7 billion in other public and private investment.

Contact: Spencer Lucker 
(501) 416-3789, slucker@dra.gov