UNION — A forum held on Main Street Union gave several local agencies an opportunity to educate each other about their current activities.
The Upstate Workforce Investment Board (WIB) held a Union County Community Input Forum at SC Works Union at noon on Thursday. After a welcome and introductions by Dana Wood of the Upstate WIB, Kathy Jo Lancaster spoke to those in attendance about Union County’s initiative to become the first certified Work Ready Community in South Carolina.
Lancaster, site director for the Union County Advanced Technology Center, described the initiative as an effort led by ACT to provide South Carolina communities a nationally recognized process certifying counties as “work ready,” which means the county has a quality workforce and commitment to continuous improvement. Certification will be awarded when counties achieve measurable educational, workforce development and business engagement goals.
“The goal is to ensure the growth of South Carolina communities by creating an environment conducive to business and workforce development,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster explained that goals set for counties by ACT were based on U.S. Census data and are relative to the population of each county. She pointed out that Work Ready Communities will be required to meet a 73.1 percent graduation rate over a three-year average by county. Counties will have two years to meet requirements of the national and state work ready initiative and, once attained, a county’s certification is valid for two years. Counties will then have an opportunity to continue through a re-certification process.
Lancaster also mentioned other important factors — such as the support of local business and industry — being critical in efforts to improve worker skills, reduce employer hiring/training costs and effectively market communities and attract new business.
“It’s locally driven, and that’s the beauty of it,” Lancaster said. “What works for Spartanburg may not work for Union.”
Lancaster said the initiative will unite those in the community such as businesses, recruiters and elected officials. She also pointed out the benefits of being certified as “work ready” in terms of economic development.
“The availability of workforce skills tops the list for site consideration across most industry sectors,” she said. “This will match job openings with qualified workers and ensure a skilled workforce and pipeline for new and expanding businesses.”
Lancaster is one of three co-chairs of the Union County Steering Committee, which is in the process of developing a community plan and conducting industry visits. The other two co-chairs are Union County Schools Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall and USC Union Interim Dean Dr. Stephen Lowe.
For more information about the initiative, visit www.scworkready.org.
After Lancaster spoke, Heather Witt of the United Way spoke about the new 2-1-1 phone number.
“We know individuals can dial 9-1-1 for emergencies and 4-1-1 for directory assistance,” Witt said. “Now, individuals in the community can dial 2-1-1 to find out about local community services.”
Witt said the site keeps a database of a wide variety of service providers including support groups, community clinics, counselors, shelters, food pantries, programs for seniors, financial assistance and more agencies in South Carolina. Witt said when individuals dial 2-1-1, the person on the line will talk to them, asking questions and finding out what sites are open and available. The caller will also find out how to prepare for a visit to the particular agency, such as cases in which certain materials may be needed.
For more information about 2-1-1, visit www.sc211.org.
Kat Tracy, of the Disability Action Center, also spoke at Thursday’s forum. She said the Disability Action Center will soon change its name to Able SC. She said the center is an independent living center but is non-residential, and it offers peer support, working with ages ranging from 3-98.
For more information about the Disability Action Center, visit www.dacsc.org.
Nancy Waddell, of Bearden-Josey Mobile Mammography, also spoke about the free mobile mammogram service. Waddell said finding women who are willing to have a mobile mammogram done has been an issue. She said the mammograms take exactly 15 minutes and that 27 ladies can be serviced per day.
The service is free for women within certain guidelines, and those who do not fit within the guidelines can still have them done through health insurance. Although there are guidelines, Waddell said she has only run into one person who was not eligible in her three years of working with the mobile mammography unit.
To schedule your mammogram on the mobile unit, call (864) 560-7999. To schedule the mobile unit to visit a business, event or site, call (864) 560-6400.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.