Posted at 10:35 AM
It is imperative that U.S. businesses have access to skilled workers in order to grow and thrive. At the Department of Commerce, Secretary Pritzker has made skills and workforce development a top priority, and is working with the private sector and government leaders at all levels as part of the Department’s Skills for Business initiative to prepare workers with the training needed to secure the 21st century jobs business leaders are seeking to fill.
In Appalachia and other historically coal-producing regions across the nation, changes in the U.S. power sector, largely driven by market forces, have negatively impacted many local and regional economies that have primarily depended on coal as a source of good jobs and investment.
The Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative is providing critically-needed assistance in support of communities and regions that are working to diversify their economies and retrain their workforces so that they can compete.
In FY 2016, EDA invested several POWER initiatives that will support regional workforce development strategies, including:
- $375,000 in planning grant funds to Citizens Energy Group, in Indianapolis, Ind., in partnership with the City of Indianapolis, the Central Indiana Community Foundation and local community development corporations. The award will fund the development of a site assessment, and a reuse of an implementation strategy for a former coke coal manufacturing facility located in the Indianapolis Promise Zone. The project will identify potential reuse strategies for the site, including redevelopment for manufacturing companies that support economic diversification and workforce development strategies to foster local and regional economic resiliency.
- $301,916 to the Centralia College Robotics Workforce Training project in Centralia, Wash. This award will help fund a workforce development project in alignment with a strategic plan designed by the Lewis Economic Development Council with support from an EDA POWER 2015 planning grant in response to the retirement of a local coal power plant. The project will support the acquisition of equipment for use in a workforce training program at Centralia College, which will train the region's workforce to use the most current robotics technology. Prospective employers and supporters of the program include The Boeing Company and the Fluke Corporation.
- $300,000 in planning grant funds to the Coconino County Career Center in Flagstaff, Ariz., in support of the Northern Arizona Regional Resilience Initiative. The project will develop a strategic plan designed to strengthen regional economic resilience through reduced dependence on the coal industry and increased economic diversification. Project activities will include the identification of in-demand workforce development programs and training curricula, examination of re-employment opportunities for workers in coal-related industries, identification of broadband opportunities, and development and promotion of industry sector strategies. Coconino County will leverage an additional $100,000 in U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act funds.
Through POWER and other collaborative partnerships across the U.S. government, the Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration are working to ensure that workforce development resources are strategically invested to effectively meet the needs of both business and workers.