12/13/09 — WORKS program honored

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WORKS program honored

By Steve Herring
Published in News on December 13, 2009 1:50 AM

County Commissioner Chairman Bud Gray said he wasn't surprised when he was told the Wayne Occupational Readiness Keys for Success, or WORKS, program had been recognized by an international organization comprised of economic developers and associates.

Gray said he also is proud that commissioners helped to create and fund the program.

WORKS was created in 2006 by a group of concerned citizens and economic development officials and county commissioners. The mission of the initiative was to develop and market a skilled and certified work force for Wayne County by facilitating communications and collaboration, assessing work force needs and gaps, supporting local, regional and state initiatives and securing adequate workforce development funding.

In October, WORKS earned the Wayne County Development Alliance an "Excellence in Economic Development" award from the International Economic Development Council.

The award was presented at the annual IEDC conference held Oct. 5-7 in Reno, Nev. Accepting the award were Mike Haney, WCDA vice president and existing industry specialist, and Lindsey Savell, WCDA research and marketing specialist. Haney represented the WCDA in developing the WORKS initiative for Wayne County and Ms. Savell wrote, prepared and submitted the winning package.

The IEDC is an international organization comprised of economic developers and associates. Its annual conference includes educational seminars, networking opportunities and recognition of outstanding economic development initiatives and programs. The WORKS initiative was submitted in the "Best Human Capital Program" and was selected as the winner by a panel of professionals in economic development.

"The goal of WORKS is to develop a documented work force pipeline with measurable skill levels that can be matched to Wayne County's current and future labor force needs," said Diane Ivey, workforce development coordinator at Wayne Community College. "Wayne County has accomplished something unique in bringing business, industry, education, economic and workforce development stakeholders together behind a common goal, speaking the same language and moving in the same direction.

"There is much work still to be done, but it is gratifying and exciting to know that what is being accomplished in Wayne County through the WORKS initiative has not gone unnoticed outside of our community."

It also is an award that everyone in the county should be proud of, County Manager Lee Smith said.

The program enjoys so much success because of the partnership between the county, WCDA, Wayne Community College, Wayne County Public Schools and industries, Smith said. That cooperation is why all county residents can take pride in the honor, he said.

Smith said he has spoken to officials in other counties who want to know the secret to Wayne's success. Smith said those officials have told him they do not enjoy the same level of cooperation.

The WCDA footed the bill for the trip, funds that Smith, who is also the WCDA treasurer, called "money well-spent."

"Being recognized nationally was worth every penny," Smith said. "I think it was important to be there since we were being recognized nationally. Industries see that kind of thing."

Smith expects the two-day, one-night trip cost around $2,000.