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Posted: October 10, 2007

Piedmont Triad Partnership Awards Seven New WIRED Focus Grants

(Nanowerk News) The Piedmont Triad Partnership (PTP) has awarded seven new Focus Grants in three categories under the WIRED Focus Grants program. The grants program is one of several strategies being employed by the PTP to enhance workforce development initiatives as part of a larger effort to improve the global competitiveness of the Piedmont Triad Region. The grants fund demonstration projects which prepare the region’s workforce for career ladder advancement into high-wage/high skill jobs in the targeted cluster areas of Advanced Manufacturing, Logistics and Distribution, Creative Enterprises/Arts and Health Care. They are funded by the $15 million U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic (WIRED) grant awarded to the Piedmont Triad Partnership in 2006.
Focus Talent Development Grants
Three of the awarded grants are Talent Development Grants which fund demonstration projects in curriculum development and identification and dissemination of career information. Recipients with projects approved for Focus Talent Development Grants are:
Piedmont Community College
(Target cluster: Health Care)
Piedmont Community College will partner with NC REAL (Rural Entrepreneurship through Action Learning) to develop a Family Caregiving Curriculum Project. The project will combine core instruction in basic health care skills with two innovative workforce development tracks: Health Care Career Employment and Health Care Entrepreneurship. Prior to instruction in core health care areas such as Nursing Aide, Medication Technician or Monitor Technician, students will be tested for suitability for a health care profession with the WorkKeys Career Readiness Certification system and will receive up to seventy hours of instruction in job seeking and job keeping skills. This track seeks to improve the retention rate of students who enter health care training and professions. Once students have completed core instruction in health care techniques, those interested in entrepreneurship will receive training and support in starting a business or working for oneself. “This curriculum will serve a growing need in the health care industry in rural Caswell county, an economically challenged county designated Tier 1 by the Department of Commerce,” says Dr. H. James Owens, president of Piedmont Community College. “There is a shortage of Allied Health Care employees regionally, and this project is vital to help the college recruit and educate candidates for health care professions.”
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
(Target cluster: Advanced Manufacturing)
North Carolina A&T State University will partner with the North Carolina Military Business Center in a project designed to help the Triad’s manufacturers train their employees to meet the needs for defense manufacturing.
Proposed activities in this project include creation of a database of advanced manufacturers in the region with the capability of performing defense-related jobs, identification of skills gaps in the region’s manufacturing workforce, and development of a series of short courses and workshops that can be delivered as webcasts in order to enhance the availability of additional training to persons already employed in manufacturing.
Davidson County Community College
(Target clusters: Advanced Manufacturing and Logistics and Distribution)
Davidson County Community College is joining Surry, Montgomery, Rockingham and Randolph Community Colleges to form a Global Languages Consortium. The WIRED grant awarded will help fund curriculum development for the first phase of the Consortium’s plan of work. In this phase, Chinese and Japanese language and culture courses will be developed for delivery in a distance learning format that combines web-based face-to-face language exchange labs, video conferencing and virtual experiences, as well as regular classroom settings. The program will provide language and culture education for early college high school students and current and future employees of area businesses as well as community college students.
Workforce Training Grants
Three manufacturing companies in the region were awarded Workforce Training Focus Grants which will allow these employers to profile jobs establishing precisely the skills needed to do those jobs effectively and to assess employees’ skills using the ACT WorkKeys Career Readiness Certification system. Training is offered to employees whose skills do not meet the requirements of the job profiles. Employees who meet the skills levels of profiled jobs receive a North Carolina Career Readiness Certification, a portable work readiness credential recognized by employers across the state and nation. It is a credential increasingly used by companies in hiring and classifying employees, and providing an objective assessment of readiness for movement up a career ladder. Companies receiving Workforce Training Grants in the current round of funding include The Berkshire Corporation, Whitsett; Viking Polymers, Jamestown; and The Wizard’s Cauldron, Yanceyville. Theresa McMorrow Jordan of Berkshire Corporation says: “As a relatively small employer, having this assistance will enable us to statistically pinpoint the skills gap and retain current employees through training. Our competition is global which means we have very little room for error; strengthening our workforce’s basic skills will minimize errors and enable us to raise our productivity levels. It will further strengthen our compensation and performance management skills, allowing us to reward our employees financially as they master needed skills.”
Entrepreneurial Job Creation and Training Grants
NanoTechLabs, Inc. of Yadkinville received an Entrepreneurial Job Creation and Training Grant. These grants are designed to assist entrepreneurs with high growth potential by providing up to $5,000 for the training of each new employee. NanoTechLabs will work with the NC State University Industrial Extension Service to train a new employee in the AS9100 Standard, an industry certification required for suppliers to the aerospace and defense industries. NanoTechLabs, founded in 2004, focuses on the development and production of military and commercial products that have performance benefits through the incorporation of nanotechnology.
The teams reviewing the grants included regional partners representing the WIRED Action Committee, area Workforce Development Boards and Chambers of Commerce, the NC Employment Security Commission, K-12
education, SCORE, the North Carolina Community College System, the Piedmont Triad Entrepreneurial Network, and the Piedmont Triad Partnership. Following this group’s review, the WIRED Action Committee voted on the team’s recommendations, and the Piedmont Triad Partnership provided final approval for funding.
With these newest awards the PTP is now funding 20 talent development, workforce training and entrepreneurial projects throughout the Piedmont Triad Region. The new grants bring the total amount of grants awarded by the PTP to approximately $ 1, 200,360 These WIRED funds plus leveraged funds and in-kind contributions amount to more than $ 3,051,934 committed in support of the 20 projects.
The Piedmont Triad Partnership is offering all three of the WIRED Focus Grants -- Focus Talent Development Grants, Focus Entrepreneurial Job Creation/Training Grants, and Focus Workforce Training Grants -- monthly until November, 2007. October applications are due October 17. The application deadline for the final awards round is November 21, 2007.
To help ensure broad participation and collaboration, and to take full advantage of existing regional resources, the grant guidelines require that individuals, businesses, trade associations, educational institutions, and community–based organizations that wish to propose a project do so in partnership with other stakeholders. All those with a project impacting one of the identified target clusters are encouraged to submit a grant application.
A Grants Application Guide with complete eligibility requirements and detailed application instructions, along with an application form for each grant program, is available at: http://www.wired.piedmonttriadnc.com.
Requests for technical assistance or further information should be emailed to: wiredgrants@piedmonttriadnc.com.
The Piedmont Triad Partnership (PTP), one of seven regional economic development partnerships in North Carolina, is the economic development organization representing the 12-county Piedmont Triad region. The PTP is the lead organization for the U.S. Department of Labor-funded Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) initiative, which supports the development of an integrated regional economic development and workforce development strategy for the Piedmont Triad. The Piedmont Triad, the nation's 37th-largest metro region with more than 1.5 million residents, includes the counties of Alamance, Caswell, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Montgomery, Randolph, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry, and Yadkin.
Source: The Piedmont Triad Partnership