November 1, 2011
By: TARA BOZICK
Published: November 01, 2011
Republished courtesy of GoDanRiver.com

A Dan River Region workforce development initiative will get a $300,000 boost.

The Dan River Region Collaborative is one of 32 workforce initiatives across the country to receive money from the federal Social Innovation Fund through the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, according to a news release. The federal grant required matching funds from National Fund.

"One of the largest barriers to economic growth in many communities is the shortage of a skilled workforce, and I am pleased that Southside will benefit from this investment," said Sen. Jim Webb, D-Virginia, in a statement.

The two-year grant will allow the collaborative to expand its systems change, training and capacity-building efforts to Patrick County and Caswell, Rockingham and Person counties in North Carolina. As a result, the collaborative will also explore the creation of an information technology partnership to serve the businesses taking advantage of local broadband infrastructure.

The collaborative, founded in 2008, already had formed employer-driven partnerships in health care, advanced manufacturing and energy, said project director Julie Brown. Such partnerships help the region identify workforce needs and implement job training, which helps employers get the talent they need while local workers can add skills to make more money.

"In a bigger sense, it's how we can recreate the middle class," Brown said.

In times of limited resources, such partnerships make sure the region is flexible and responsive to workforce needs, said collaborative chair Laurie Moran, president of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce.

"As we focus on job creation, it's imperative that we find innovative solutions that advance the skills of our workforce to be competitive in a global economy," Moran said in the release.

Regional employers in the manufacturing, health care, energy or information technology sectors can learn more by contacting Brown at jbrown@danriverrc.com or (434) 836-5674.