NEWS: DRA, partners invest $2 million to improve workforce training in Thomasville

December 22, 2017

Economic Development Administration provides funding support

THOMASVILLE, AL. – The Delta Regional Authority (DRA), through a program partnership with the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), today announced a $2 million investment to strengthen workforce training in Thomasville. 

“With an expanded career readiness center in Thomasville, more residents of southwest Alabama will have access to the important tools that build the foundation for a successful career,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “I am appreciative of this investment in our state’s workforce by the DRA and EDA which will help more residents of Alabama’s Black Belt learn the skills needed to prepare for and start a career.”

DRA will invest nearly $1.3 million and the city will contribute another $778,620 to establish a modern career readiness facility in downtown Thomasville. The facility also will help train workers across southwest Alabama and will strategically align learning, education and employment training in one location. The investment will help triple the number of computers available for training and will provide easier access to job listings, job skills training and resume help.  

Alabama’s congressional delegation released the following statements in support of the initiative:

“Many rural areas lack the basic career resources that are needed to develop a skilled workforce. This Delta Regional Authority funding is excellent news for the City of Thomasville and the surrounding region,” said Sen. Richard Shelby. “Not only will the project provide job seekers access to the tools needed to prepare for future employment, but it will promote connectivity and link workers with employment opportunities to meet workforce demands. I look forward to witnessing the benefits of this strategic and innovative partnership.”

“The Delta Regional Authority’s investment in Thomasville will help to create an environment for job growth, wage growth, and a better future for families in rural Alabama,” said Rep. Terri Sewell. “The workforce needs in the United States are rapidly changing, and preparing our workers with 21st century skills is critical to our nation’s economic success. The new career readiness facility in Thomasville will help to provide job seekers in rural Alabama with the skills they need to compete. A huge thank you to the Delta Regional Authority, the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and the City of Thomasville for working together to make this investment.”

The project will consolidate the career readiness training now provided by the Thomasville public library. More than 40 percent of the current center’s users are from surrounding counties leading to a wide impact in southwest Alabama. This impact is even more pronounced due to the lack of high-speed internet and computer access in this area. A larger facility will allow for more computer terminals and expanded access to Wi-Fi for individuals using their own devices.

In rural Alabama, many residents lack fundamental skills in the use of the internet and how to leverage it for career readiness. This initiative fills a major gap in the region by promoting connectivity and linking workers with workforce demands. The current facility is too small to deal with the number of individuals seeking help. A new facility will allow for a wider array of job skills and workforce development activities to be offered. To kick start this project in January 2016, First US Bank donated a historic downtown building to the city for use as a career readiness center.

“We appreciate EDA’s willingness to continue investing in the Delta region,” said Peter Kinder, alternate federal co-chairman of DRA. “This investment in Thomasville will strengthen workforce training in rural communities across southwest Alabama.”

In October, DRA and other public and private partners invested about $7.1 million in seven statewide projects across Alabama as part of the agency’s States’ Economic Development Assistance Program. Today’s announcement delivers additional investments through the DRA-EDA partnership.
 

About the Delta Regional Authority
The Delta Regional Authority is a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000 to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives through strategic investments in economic development in 252 counties and parishes across eight states. To date, DRA’s investments have exceeded $3.7 billion – including contributions from federal, state and local partners – and have supported infrastructure improvements, workforce development and training, and increased community capacity. These investments have helped create or retain more than 38,000 jobs, trained more than 8,400 workers for 21st Century jobs, and provided water and sewer service to more than 75,000 families since DRA was established. Learn more at dra.gov.

About the Economic Development Administration
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth. Learn more at eda.gov.

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Media Contact:
Andrew Moreau
202-744-3558
amoreau@dra.gov