McAuliffe announces $6 million grant for job training initiatives in Southwest Virginia

virginia logoGovernor Terry McAuliffe today announced that a consortium of workforce development partners, including local workforce boards, public and private education and workforce training providers, and not-for-profits, has received a $6 million America’s Promise Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).

The consortium will be led by the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board, located in Radford. The four-year project, titled Pathways to the American Dream, will train workers in the region to support growing industries critical to the regional economy.

“The large and ambitious proposal was one of only 23 in the nation to be funded through the U.S. DOL America’s Promise Grant program,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe.  “I congratulate the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board and its partners for securing the highest level of funding to prepare workers for careers in advanced manufacturing, health care, and IT in rural Virginia. Through this grant program, more Virginians will be better prepared to enter a highly competitive workforce and continue building a new Virginia economy.”

The Pathways to the American Dream grant project will:

  1. Create a regional workforce strategy for sector partnerships in manufacturing, healthcare and information technology (IT) industries;
  2. Increase opportunities for unemployed and underemployed adults and incumbent workers to earn skills or credentials in middle- to high-skilled occupations;
  3. Develop strategies that increase training and education opportunities for disadvantaged populations; and
  4. Provide evidence-based design data and outcomes so Virginia legislators can adopt policies for sustaining and scaling innovative sector partnership training programs.

“This proposal emphasizes engaging employers in design and development of education and training programs and leveraging private resources to improve public workforce development programs,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “The project also removes cost as a barrier for individuals to acquire new skills and provides a fast track for individuals to earn the credentials employers’ value most. This approach is consistent with the work we have been moving forward since Governor McAuliffe took office.  The level of regional collaboration involved in this initiative is unprecedented and I applaud all of the partners involved.”

“We are thrilled to be a recipient of DOL America’s Promise Grant funds, as the grant builds on other initiatives in the region to identify, train, and credential workers that our region’s businesses require in order to remain competitive and grow. The Pathways to the American Dream project aims to unify partners and satisfy customers and stakeholders,” said Marty Holliday, Executive Director of the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board.

The Virginia Community College System will work with targeted colleges and the grant’s partners to help unemployed, underemployed, and incumbent workers in the southwest region of the Commonwealth earn industry recognized credentials. The program will provide new tools for individuals to explore career opportunities and fast track programs to prepare for good jobs in their community. Additional training providers may also contribute to the project to fill training gaps, offer short-term and accelerated training, and provide participants a choice in training delivery.

Goodwill Industries of the Valleys, Inc., a non-profit agency with more than 80 years of service to the region, will be a major collaborator in the grant’s efforts to strengthen workforce development in the region.

President and CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Valleys Bruce Phipps added, “Goodwill Industries of the Valleys is proud to be a partner in Pathways to the American Dream. We are excited about this highly collaborative regional initiative to provide businesses with skilled workers to fill critical jobs. We look forward to creating opportunities for individuals with barriers to succeed in achieving self-sufficiency.” In addition to providing leadership in this regional initiative, Mr. Phipps serves as a member of the Virginia Board of Workforce Development.

Members of the Pathways to the American Dream collaborative include four Local Workforce Development Boards: Local Workforce Development Area (LWDA) 1 -Southwest Virginia, LWDA 2 -New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Board, LWDA 3 – Western Virginia, and LWDA 17 – West Piedmont. The Education and Training partners participating in the grant include the region’s community colleges, the Southwest Virginia Center of Excellence, and other training providers. Employer partners include: Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing; West River Conveyers Machinery, Samuel Pressure Vessel Group, Pemco Corporation, Tempur-Production USA, Optical Cable Corporation, and Tadano Mantis Corporation. Participating economic development agencies include: Mount Rogers Planning District Commission, New River Valley Regional Commission, Roanoke Regional Partnership, Lenowisco Planning District Commission, Bland County Board of Supervisors, Floyd County Community and Economic Development Office, and Goodwill Industries of the Valleys, Inc.

The geographic area to be served by the project includes the following counties and cities: LWDA I – Buchanan, Dickenson, Lee, Norton, Russell, Scott, Tazewell, and Wise; LWDA 2 – Bland, Bristol, Carroll, Floyd, Galax, Giles, Grayson, Montgomery, Pulaski, Radford, Smyth, Washington, and Wythe; LWDA 3 – Alleghany, Botetourt, Clifton Forge, Craig, Franklin, Roanoke, and Roanoke City; and LWDA 17 – Danville, Henry, Martinsville, Patrick, and Pittsylvania.

For more information about this grant and workforce development efforts in Southwest and Southside Virginia, please contact Marty Holliday, Executive Director of the New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Development Area at or (540) 633-6764.

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