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DRA, U.S. Department of Labor Announce $14.5 Million Investment for Workforce Development

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The Delta Regional Authority (DRA), in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training Administration (ETA), today announced a $14,587,500 investment into 13 organizations throughout the Mississippi River Delta and Alabama Black Belt to expand the impact of workforce development efforts in a second round of grant funding through the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) initiative.

ETA awarded grants to projects focused on areas hard hit by economic transition and recovering more slowly. Selected projects are innovative and sustainable strategies providing needed career, training, and support services to eligible individuals, which will assist in meeting workforce challenges and industry needs currently underserved by other resources in the Delta.

“For rural communities to be competitive today, we must ensure economic development and skills development go hand in hand,” said DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Caldwell.  “Through the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities initiative, the Delta Regional Authority enables Delta communities to strengthen workforce pipelines and continue upward economic mobility.  Thanks to the vision of Senator Blunt and leadership of President Trump and Secretary Scalia, the WORC Initiative will provide critical investments into innovative, industry-driven workforce training across the Delta.”

Authorized by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, WORC Initiative grants take a long-term view toward assisting eligible communities in diversifying their economies and expanding and diversifying partnerships by investing in local strategies developed by regional partners. ETA awardees align and integrate workforce development activities with existing state, regional, or community development strategies. Ranging from $150,000 to $1.5 million, the grants can also help serve those receiving employment and training services from organizations in regions affected by the opioid crisis.

“The WORC Initiative encourages grantees to use innovative, regional approaches that leverage local partnerships and resources to build a strong foundation for long-term economic success in the area,” said U.S. Department of Labor Assistant Secretary John Pallasch. “We look forward to working with ARC and DRA to ensure that the training delivered through these grants better positions jobseekers to fill the unmet skill needs of local employers, so that workers and businesses can thrive in their communities.”

“Workforce development programs are an invaluable tool for helping people get the skills they need to get ahead,” said U.S. Senator Roy Blunt. “The WORC initiative is creating more opportunities in underserved areas by providing reemployment and training assistance. As chairman of the appropriations subcommittee that started this program, I’ll continue prioritizing resources for this program and other initiatives that boost economic growth in rural areas.”

A list of grantees and the state they serve is below:

  • Delta Area Economic Opportunity Corporation (MO); $1,209,301

  • Delta Health Alliance, Inc. (MS); $1,499,667

  • Lurleen B. Wallace Community College (AL); $1,495,819

  • Management, Training and Consulting Corporation (IL); $1,191,187

  • Marquette Tech District Foundation, Inc. (IL); $1,364,200

  • McNeese State University (LA); $1,458,203

  • Missouri State University (MO); $960,000

  • NextOp, Inc. (LA); $630,000

  • Ozarka College (AR); $1,472,857

  • Southern Arkansas University Tech (AR); $940,569

  • University of Louisiana Monroe (LA); $1,074,510

  • University of Memphis (TN); $1,013,896

  • West Kentucky Community and Technical College (KY); $277,291