Bryan County, along with nearly 70 percent of all Georgia communities, is in the process of becoming Certified Work Ready.
Thirty-four counties, including Bryan, recently made the commitment to earn the certified status, Governor Sonny Perdue recently announced.
The Work Ready program will benefit job seekers, businesses and communities in Bryan County and the surrounding area, according to Development Authority Executive Director Jean Bacon.
"The bottom line is, to be competitive with other counties and states for business and industry, Bryan County must be able to offer a more knowledge-based workforce," Bacon said.
The program will involve community leaders in education, business and industry, working together toward achieving "a more talented workforce," she said.
"The program is designed to improve job training and marketability of Georgia’s workforce," Bacon continued. "In other words, the goal is to match the right people to the right jobs – and the end result should drive economic growth for our county."
The team working on the county’s certification includes local and regional officials. Bacon noted that the application required all team members to be from the city where the county seat is located.
Pembroke Mayor Judy Cook and Assistant Bryan County School Superintendent Brad Anderson are two of the county’s certification team members.
"I think this is fantastic," Cook said. "Partnership is the name of the game and you can get so much more achieved if you have a team all working together. I think this will be really good for the residents of Pembroke and everyone in Bryan County."
Anderson said the core of the program is to provide an educated workforce to meet local business and industry needs.
"During the certification, they will assess our students and, as a school system, we will align our program offerings – especially the career technical courses – to the needs of the county," Anderson explained.
Bacon said the ball started rolling in October, when Dr. Ben Thompson, vice president for Economic Development at Ogeechee Tech, began working with Bryan and several other counties to submit a Work Ready Regional grant.
"The program was initiated by Governor Perdue, but locally Dr. Ben Thompson forged ahead," Bacon said. "Bryan County’s application was approved and our portion of that grant will be $12,000."
Bryan County will have 18 months to complete certification, which normally would take about three years, under the terms of the grant.
Perdue said the program is helping transform the state and will make the workforce "our number one competitive advantage."
Here is the rest of Bryan County’s Work Ready team:
Ken Boyd, co-team leader, vice-president of economic eevelopment, Savannah Tech; Jimmy Burnsed, chairman of the Bryan County Commission; Mary Warnell, president of the North Bryan Chamber of Commerce; Ebony White, Georgia Department of Community Affairs; Jerald Mitchell, Georgia Department of Economic Development regional project manager; Georgia Department of Labor Regional Representative, to be determined; Jamie Partain, local high school graduation coach; Randy Mertz, Oracal USA, Inc.; and Eric Narvaez, Oneida.
The Bryan County team will have its first meeting Thursday, to start going over the specifics of the progress toward certification.
For more information on the Work Ready initiative, visit www.gaworkready.org.