SAPDC training partnership bringing skills to region

A multi-agency partnership will develop a worker training program designed to meet area employers’ needs thanks to a state grant.

The Southern Alleghenies Planning and Development Commission, Southern Alleghenies Workforce Investment Board and the Partnership for Regional Economic Performance received a $500,000 Jobs First Pa. regional partnership grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s Re-employment Fund.

The “Economic Growth thru Regional Collaboration and Workforce Training” initiative is designed to enhance economic growth by building on current partnerships to connect jobseekers with employers, support employer-driven training programs and help retain talent within Pennsylvania and the region, said Jeff Thomas, Huntingdon County commissioner and president of the SAP&DC board of directors.

The project includes numerous partners because this type of project cannot be accomplished by one agency, said Steven K. Howsare, SAP&DC executive director.

“There has long been a system of referral between economic and workforce development in our area, but we saw this grant opportunity as a way to enhance the relationships internally but to also really expand our assistance to the businesses that are the lifeblood of any community,” Howsare said.

The county economic development corporations participating are Bedford County Development Association, Altoona-Blair County Development Corp., Johnstown Area Regional Industries, Fulton Industrial Development Association, Huntingdon County Business and Industry and Somerset County Economic Development Council.

The industrial resource centers are the Innovative Manufacturers Center, Catalyst Connection and MANTEC. Other partners include the Saint Francis Small Business Development Center, the PA CareerLinks and a consortium of colleges and universities.

The partners will focus their efforts on the businesses in six industry clusters including advanced manufacturing, building and construction, business services, health care, hospitality – leisure and entertainment, and logistics and transportation.

The economic development agencies will contact hundreds of companies to ask them questions about their workforce needs. The goal is to reach 20 percent of employers in each of the industry clusters, a total of about 1,400 employers, Howsare said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.