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County to assess business needs

February 05, 2002

County to assess business needs



By STACEY DANZUSO
chbbureau@innernet.net


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Aiming to keep the local work force desirable for new and current employers, the Franklin County Area Development Corporation will use a state grant to assess the needs of area businesses.

"With the influx of new businesses and the changing economy, developing a work force with the skills and abilities that employers need is one of our highest priorities for ensuring long-term economic stability," L. Michael Ross, Franklin County Area Development Corporation president, said.

The $57,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry will fund a comprehensive assessment of local employers' work force needs and support a local job fair.

The new FCADC Education and Work Force Development Committee will conduct the study, focusing on: Identifying critical work force issues; educational and/or training gaps that are going unmet or under-served; and how best to maximize local resources to close the gaps, according to Ross.

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"We think it is important for everyone to understand what resources we have, who their target constituency is, and determine the amount of duplication of efforts so we market our resources more effectively," Ross said.

He gave the Franklin County Career and Technology Center as an example of a resource, but said the assessment may identify a gap in availability for post-secondary or advanced technical training.

The needs assessment is expected to be completed by a professional consultant by the end of May, Ross said. It will serve as the foundation for future short- and long-term work force development initiatives in Franklin County.

"Matching worker skills and training with the needs of employers is critical to ensure that local businesses remain competitive and successful," Tim Bittle, deputy secretary for work force development at the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, said in a news release.

The grant comes after Franklin County successfully courted three major companies to the Interstate 81 corridor. New distribution centers for Kmart, Target and Ingram Books are in various stages of construction, and ultimately are expected to create close to 2,000 new jobs in the county.

Bittle presented the grant last week to the Education & Work Force Development Committee at its first meeting.

The committee is made up of about 30 business and educational leaders from across the county and includes representation from the Franklin County Area Development Corporation, Cumberland Valley Educational Consortium, SouthCentral Workforce Investment Board and the Franklin County Team PA CareerLink, among others.

The Franklin County Team PA CareerLink, 600 Norland Ave., will use funds from the grant to support its second annual job fair, tentatively scheduled for June 7 at the Chambersburg Mall.

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