Strategy session helps businesses gain knowledge about programs

By | May 9, 2019 10:45 am

Denny Wayne Robinson, White County executive, addresses those in attendance at the recent strategy session. (Photo by RACHEL AUBERGER)

By Rachel Auberger

White County Executive Denny Wayne Robinson hosted a workforce and economic development strategy session May 1.

“Approximately 20 different business were represented to learn about programs available to assist in hiring and training employees along with other opportunities,” Robinson explained. “Representatives were present from different agencies to explain their programs and all that is available.”

The strategy session, which was held at First National Bank, in Sparta, included retail, service, and industrial businesses. In addition, representatives from Upper Cumberland Workforce, White County High School, Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, TVA, Middle Tennessee Industrial Development Association, Upper Cumberland Development District, Veterans Services, and Sparta-White County Chamber of Commerce were in attendance.

According to Robinson, the purpose of the strategy session was to let employers know what services are available to them. Different agencies presented their services to those in attendance in hopes of making them aware of the aid they can provide to both the businesses and their potential employees.

Along with services that would help with the growth of businesses such as loans, research, and development, there were presentations on services that would help industries grow their workforce. Help with the cost of training employees, help with finding qualified employees, and help for potential employees to have the means to be employable were all discussed.

Additionally, representatives from the Career and Technical Education department at White County High School were on hand to discuss Work Based Learning and Apprenticeships.  Tim Mackie and Terri Douglas talked about the certificate programs offered at the high school and the expansion of these programs so students can be ready to enter the workforce at the time of graduation.

“Forty percent of students don’t go on to post-secondary education,” Mackie said. “We are working to reach that group and be sure they have the skills they need to be successful.”

Douglas said the Work Based Learning Program has placed 146 students with 58 host employers, 55 of which are in White County, in its first five years.

“If your business needs a certification, let me know,” Mackie encouraged the business representatives in attendance. “If there is something we can offer students so that they will be employable upon graduation, we want to do that.”

Robinson discussed the fact that White County has increased its workforce by 1,640 people and that the county is number one in the 14-county Upper Cumberland District for workforce growth.

Becky Hull, Upper Cumberland Workforce director, encouraged employers to work with her agency as well as with the CTE program at the high school.

“We need information from you,” she stressed. “We need feedback from industries, and we need to know what it is you need in employees. We want to help get those employees in your businesses and help them be a successful part of the community here.”

“Wednesday’s employer’s summit was a great success,” Robinson said. “Often these programs and money go unused, and I want to make sure our businesses know what is available and is out there to assist them.”

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