The North Carolina Department of Commerce awarded 20 special grants to 11 local workforce development boards, totaling $8.45 million last week. Boards will use the grants to help jobseekers and small businesses with training and other services in response to a tight labor market. These include programs for individuals who are in the reentry process and individuals with or at risk of substance abuse. Federal American Rescue Plan Act funds are supporting this initiative.
“I am thrilled to see that more than a million dollars was earmarked for Western North Carolina and workforce development,” said Senator Kevin Corbin. “It is more important than ever to help our friends and neighbors get back to work and overcome the challenges they face when entering the workforce. Each area of our state have different needs — what they need on the coast might not work for us here in the mountains so I am excited to see these funds being given to local boards that know what their communities need most.”
For North Carolina Senate District 50, which includes Macon, Jackson, Swain, Cherokee, Graham, Clay, Transylvania, part of Haywood County, and the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, the Department of Commerce awarded a NCWorks Reentry Support Grants to Mountain Area WDB (Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties): The $200,000 grant will assist individuals who are in the reentry process and are transitioning back into the community and need assistance finding skills training and supportive services to achieve more permanent job placements.
The Department of Commerce awarded five NCWorks Substance Use Disorder Recovery Grants including one in WNC to the Mountain Area Workforce Development Board (Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties). The $200,000 grant will assist individuals in recovery from substance use disorders through treatment support, social services, training and employment support, helping them transition back into the community with more permanent job placements.
The Department of Commerce also awarded 11 NCWorks Small Business Work-Based Learning Grants including one to the Mountain Area WDB (Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties). The $904,000 grant will assist local employers with 25 or fewer employees impacted by the economic conditions caused by the pandemic through a variety of work-based learning tools and entrepreneurship programs with NC IDEA and the N.C. Community College System.
The Southwestern Workforce Development Board (Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties) also received a small business work-based learning grant for $276,000 which will be used to invest in the region’s youth by highlighting meaningful career opportunities available locally. Another component of the board’s initiative will focus on fostering productive work environments, promoting talent development and enhancing business growth with work-based learning.
The source of funding for all these grants is a component of the American Rescue Plan Act, the State Fiscal Recovery Fund (SFRF), which provides $5.4 billion to North Carolina to help turn the tide on the pandemic, address its economic fallout, and lay the foundation for a strong and equitable recovery. The N.C. General Assembly appropriated the SFRF in the 2021 Appropriations Act (Session Law 2021-180).
The Division of Workforce Solutions at the N.C. Department of Commerce will soon begin accepting applications from local government agencies and non-profit organizations for workforce grants from the same funding source.
Individual jobseekers and employers interested in services funded by grants to local workforce boards should contact their local NCWorks Career Centers. Contact information is found at www.NCWorks.gov.