Governor Bentley keynotes workforce development summit

Governor Robert Bentley was the ketnote speaker at the Summit on Re-imagining the Delta
Workforce in Alabama’s Blackbelt Wednesday, July 23, 2014. The conference was held in
Chatom, AL where it was announced that 1.7 million dollars has been made available to
overhaul the regions workforce.

BLACKBELT_MAPState and local leaders convened in the Chatom Community Center to hear a report on the
Future of the South…Re-imagining Workforce Development. The report released by the Delta
Regional Authority, an eight state alliance that Alabama is part of stressed the need to
strengthen the connection between education and job skills…particularly in Alabama’s
rural areas.

“We have to re-train ourselves to focus in on those high paying, quality jobs as we are
promoting right now and recruiting,” said Austin Monk, Director of the Washington County
Economic Development Initiative. “We are working to try to provide those jobs which are no
longer available with better and more training through community colleges, Alabama
Industrial Training and the Alabama Technology Network that’s available as a resource to
re-train and re-tool our people.”

Re-training the regions workforce takes money. The Delta Regional Authority announced a
1.7 million dollar investment into overhauling the region’s workforce development
initiatives. That, in combination with a bond passed by the state legislature to pay for
dual enrolement for high school students will go a long way in making that happen.

“This enables students to aquire those skills necessary to meet the needs of high paying,
demanding jobs, but still remain in their community and be well trained and be competitive
with our world economy,” Monk said.

Governor Robert Bentley was the keynote speaker at the summit. He said federal and state
partnerships in economic development and workforce training are key in building back a
viable workforce in Alabama’s rural counties. It’s something hem said he’s already seen
working.

“The Delta Regional Authority that we are with today is a good example of a partnership
with the federal government and the state,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “They have
really done a lot to help us. They helped us with Golden Dragon Copper Tubing. If it had
not been for them, we would not have gotten I think approximatly 1.5 million dollars to put
together as a package to get that company to come to the poorest county in America which is
Wilcox County.”

With a well trained and tech-minded work force, community leaders throughout the blackbelt
region hope to have many more manufacturing companies call Alabama’s piney woods home.

The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership encompassing 252 counties and
parishes. So far they’ve been able to help create and retain more than 41,000 jobs and has
secured 2.7 billion dollars in public and private investment.

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