By Susan Newby
With rural communities in Middle Tennessee often seeing the exodus of some of their best and brightest high school graduates to universities or the bright lights of urban areas, three counties in our region will profit from a recent state grant aimed at supporting workforce expansion efforts in areas targeted as distressed or at-risk.
Grundy County, designated by the state as a distressed county, will be among the 15 counties to split up $2.1 million of the $3 million in grant funding allotted to accepted grant applicants.
Grundy will receive a total of $163,658 in funding for OJT and Incumbent worker programs that aim to aid an increase in the county’s skilled labor force.
Receiving grants as at-risk counties splitting the remaining $900,000 in funds were Warren and Van Buren counties, which will receive $38,911 and $35,128 respectively, for Youth initiative (a rural graduation program) and another program, Justice-Involved Individuals.
The Tennessee Workforce Development Board (TWDB) announced the successful rural initiative funding grant applications on October 30. The funding will go to each county’s local workforce development boards for the designated programs.
The Tennessee Development of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) will also provide additional program guidance to the local workforce development boards receiving the funding.
“The members of the Tennessee Work Development Board want to do everything we can to give the residents in our rural communities the skills that will allow them to help themselves to better job opportunities,” said TWDB chairman Tim Berry.
Noting that the state’s rural counties face workforce challenges that don’t exist in urban and metropolitan areas, the TWDB aims to create greater opportunities for distressed and at-risk counties by encouraging skills training in high-demand growth sectors.