RALEIGH — A new $1 million grant program for workforce development could help develop Scotland County’s workforce.
The Maximize Carolina Sector grants were offered by the North Carolina Department of Commerce’s Division of Workforce Solutions to provide money to employer groups facing talent shortages in high-demand occupations.
“North Carolina’s businesses now have a powerful new way to find and develop the employees they need,” North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland said in a statement. “Gov. Cooper promised to strengthen our businesses and build an economy that works for everyone, and this new grant program helps achieve that goal.”
The funds are geared toward partnerships in information technology, advanced manufacturing, environmental sustainability, aerospace, defense, industrial maintenance, health care, and hospitality/tourism. The division anticipates awarding between 16 and 30 grants annually, depending on available funds. Funding for the Maximize Carolina Sector grants comes from the federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.
“Based on what I can understand, the grants are available for emerging industries, which is something we have in the county,” said Chris English, executive director for the Laurinburg-Scotland County Area Chamber of Commerce. “In the defense sector, we have Griffin Group.”
The goal of the new grant program is to further advance industry sector strategies such as career pathways and apprenticeships.
“I would say companies looking to expand, there is opportunity here in Scotland County,” English said. “this is an opportunity for a company to partner with NCWorks, the workforce and institutions like RCC.”
The new program encourages businesses to form innovative partnerships and to work together to support workforce training, hiring, and other approaches to improve regional economies. To qualify for funding, these partnerships must include multiple businesses and the local workforce development board at a minimum.
“This can help bridge that gap between what is needed in the workforce,” said Mark Ward, Scotland County Economic Development Corporation director.
The program will help to link companies, the community and educational institutions, according to Ward.
In order for businesses to receive grant funding, it will depend on how many businesses are in the partnership and the partnerships are required to match the grant amount received. Each partnership is required to complete an application and will hear from the division of workforce within two weeks. Interested employers should contact their local workforce development board for more information.
“We do have a meeting with our Southeast partners in Elizabethtown on Thursday,” Ward said.
For information about NCWorks and the Maximize Carolina Sector grants, visit nccommerce.com.
Reach Nolan Gilmour at 910-506-3171