Lex Taylor, chairman of the board of the Taylor Group of Companies, Inc., spoke during the ARC Empower meeting in Louisville last week.
Lex Taylor, chairman of the board of the Taylor Group of Companies, Inc., spoke during the ARC Empower meeting in Louisville last week.
By Steve Swogetinsky

Kemper Messenger



 A federal grant that will help counties adversely affected by the closing of the Mississippi Power Co. coal plant retrain workers is showing dividends.

    Economic developers from several counties worked with their respective community colleges to gain and implement the the ARC EMPower Initiative Grant which focuses on workforce training programs.    “We got the grant a few months ago,” Kemper County EDA executive director Craig Hitt said. “It is primarily for the folks displaced by the closing of coaling mining operation.  East Mississippi Community College is using their share to focus on welding.”

    Webster and Choctaw counties will be working closely with Holmes Community College and Winston County with East Central Community College.

The Louisville Community Saferoom, also referred to as ‘The Dome’, was the scene of a luncheon this past Thursday, attended by economic development professionals, elected officials, educational professionals and business leaders to acknowledge the ARC EMPower Initiative Grant.

    With an eye on development of the workforce in the different counties, the grant funds have been used to purchase equipment and perform facility upgrades that are needed in each individual community.

Guest speaker, Lex Taylor, chairman of the board of the Taylor Group of Companies, Inc., spoke of a changing paradigm needed for today’s workforce development.

Gone are the days when a company would hire a worker and train him on the job. Manufacturers, large and small, today are looking for employees who already have some degree of training, skills and experience.

The ARC EMPower Initiative will not only help to begin to train high school students but will also be used on the community college level, and for community members who might be out of work or are seeking to advance their careers with additional training.

In addition, the grant funds will be used in the ACT Workkeys testing program to help determine the level of skills that high school students currently have, and areas in which they might be deficient. Workkeys testing has already begun in the different counties.

Mike Robertson contributed to this report.