Three of the six Governor's NCWorks Awards of Distinction went to McDowell County recipients, spotlighting the county's domination in the field of innovation and achievement for workforce development in North Carolina. Each year the North Carolina Department of Commerce under its NCWorks Commission recognizes individuals and organizations throughout the state that show outstanding achievement and innovation in the workforce. The commission reviews and recommends policies and strategies that “enables the state's workforce and businesses to compete globally.” “These programs and people are helping North Carolinians get the skills and training needed to get and keep good jobs,” Gov. Roy Cooper said. “I congratulate these honorees and thank them for their dedication to improving our workforce.”
McDowell Workforce Pipeline
Innovation, achievement: McDowell takes 3 of 6 Governor's NCWorks Awards
Winning for Outstanding Achievement as an employer was Columbia Forest Products (CFP) in Old Fort. CFP received the distinction for its significant contributions to the local economies of Rutherford, McDowell, Cleveland and Polk counties. The company created and implemented an outreach and employment training program that provides job readiness and manufacturing skills for new employees. What stood out to the committee about CFP said Gene Scott, director of the NCWorks Training Center, was their positive investment in the community and their evident respect and concern for their employees.
One story that touched the hearts of every committee member, said Scott, was that of the Outstanding Young Adult winner, Destiny Mader, who has faced many obstacles in her life but has refused to fall victim to her circumstances. "She is indeed a shining example of how hard work and strong community support can change a young person's future," said Scott.
"Her story needs to be shared to plant the seed of success for others in similar circumstances and we are exploring avenues that will be suitable," said Scott.
Coming in with a third win is the McDowell County Workforce Pipeline Committee for Innovative Partnership. The committee immediately recognized the high level of collaboration among the private sector and the public entities that made this partnership truly unique and special.
The Pipeline Committee is a collaborative idea that stemmed from a need. Manufacturing's modern makeover and an employee base that was aging out resulted in a lack of qualified local employees. To address this, the Committee, which grew to include industry representatives, the Region C Workforce Development Board, NCWorks Career Center, McDowell County Schools, McDowell Technical Community College and McDowell Chamber of Commerce, worked together to create and support a workforce pipeline.
"While it may seem surprising for a small, rural county like McDowell to stand out in the state, the committee had no problem recognizing the tangible achievements of McDowell," Scott said. "Perhaps the close-knit nature of the community lends itself more readily to the development of shared goals and cohesive actions."
The Pipeline produces qualified workers for today's advanced manufacturing careers and the Committee is working to expand the program in Cleveland, Rutherford and Polk counties. The committee has grown into a robust organization over time, producing 165 Manufacturing Certification graduates, 137 graduates who are currently employed, and 25 graduates who are no longer homeless.