Release Date: 09/30/2016
PINEVILLE, Mo.—The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) along with officials from McDonald County, McDonald County Telephone Company and Internet companies and local leaders today announced McDonald County has achieved official designation as a Certified Work Ready Community (CWRC), and that it is now certified in offering high-speed fiber access to Pineville, Anderson, Jane and surrounding areas.
“Today’s announcements serve as milestones in McDonald County’s strategic efforts to strengthen and grow its economy,” said Mike Downing, director of DED. “A talented workforce and state-of-the-art infrastructure are absolutely necessary in all corners of Missouri—from the rural areas to the urban areas—for the state’s economy to grow and thrive.”
The fiber-ready certification shows that the Pineville and Anderson communities are capable of serving world-class clientele, such as Wal-Mart, which has a large digital storage presence in McDonald County.
“As of today we have over 700 connections on our fiber network with new customers joining daily,” said Aaron Gent, Vice President of McDonald County Telephone & Internet companies. “Our crews have been working for the past five years on fiber to the home (FTTH) infrastructure, which is ideal for businesses as well. Our team is determined to get super-fast internet to anyone who wants it.”
The CWRC designation, made by American College Testing (ACT), aligns workforce training programs with the economic development needs of communities, matches appropriate applicants to jobs based on skill level and strengthens businesses by strengthening the workforce.
Because career readiness factors into national high school rankings, McDonald County High School has recently seen a boost and was ranked one of the nation’s top high schools by U.S. News & World Report. The school saw a boost when its high school students tested for National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRCs), which are part of the CWRC certification.
“McDonald County R-1 schools are very proud of our work ready partnership with the McDonald County Chamber of Commerce,” said Angela Brewer, Assistant Superintendent of the McDonald County R-1 School District. “Our goal is to graduate college- and career-ready citizens: Every Child, Every Day, Whatever It Takes! This partnership is one more evidenced example of our commitment to that goal.”
The state’s southwest workforce region is making incredible strides in certified work readiness, with all seven of its counties participating in the initiative. McDonald County leaders are also building partnerships with counties in Arkansas and Kansas to build the entire region’s resilience and prosperity.
“McDonald County leaders have been working diligently to achieve certified status,” said Dr. Jennifer Methvin, President of Crowder College. “With this designation I am proud to say Crowder’s nine-county service region is either participating or already a certified community. The college’s role in providing educational needs to close the skills gap is the foundation to building a solid workforce.”
The ceremony was held at Crowder College in Pineville, with many supporters of the CWRC and telecomm efforts in attendance. Area employers supporting the CWRC including Cooper Gear & Manufacturing attended.
“Cooper Gear saves time and money in training and turn over and reduces waste by having a way to match the potential employee with the level of skill needed to perform the job,” said Shawn Cooper, owner of Cooper Gear & Manufacturing. “Cooper Gear is utilizing this program as one means of ensuring employees have the skills needed to perform the job.”
In 2012, Missouri was selected to be one of the first four states to participate in the CWRC initiative, and in 2013, Jasper County became the first CWRC in the nation. Missouri now has 81 counties that are actively participating in the CWRC initiative and 36 fully-certified counties. New certifications are considered on a quarterly basis.
In the past few months, nearly one dozen Missouri counties have celebrated certification as work ready communities.
Additional partners in obtaining the CWRC designation include the McDonald County Chamber of Commerce, Anderson Betterment Club, McDonald County, the Southwest Missouri Workforce Innovation Board, Poppy’s Daylight Donuts and Waco Title among others.
CWRC status makes communities more attractive to businesses because it offers a feedback loop for what’s needed by different players in the dynamic 21st Century workforce. Specifically, benefits from CWRC certification include:
- Workers better understand what skills are required by employers and how to prepare themselves for success.
- Businesses can more effectively communicate their workforce needs to area education and workforce training programs.
- Educators have better tools for closing any skill gaps by establishing career pathways for students with stackable industry-recognized credentials.
- Economic development organizations are better equipped with an on-demand reporting tool to promote the quality of their workforce.
For more information about CWRC and how to apply for certification, visit www.ded.mo.gov/getcertified.