Progress In Action

Below you will find a quick summary of some of our latest success.  Following this report you will see a list of our current projects and partner engagement.  If you would like more information on these and other projects please give us a call at (205) 391-0331.

ARC Hale County Project

  • 294 individuals attended multiple event locations spanning 695 miles travelled and 48 plus hours spent
  • ARD continues hiring Ready to Work graduates.  These individuals received full time jobs at ARD and full tuition scholarships in logistics.
  • ARC Grant utilizing $388,000 with over 200 job seekers connected.

Brookwood Logistics Center

  • The Tuscaloosa County School System, suppliers, and West Alabama Works are retrofitting the old, vacant Brookwood High School using a $125,000 grant and money from industry.
  • $25,000 each from the County and City of Tuscaloosa.
  • There will be a 4 step process of transformation into a green, innovative campus.

The Power Grant

  • Submitted in November 2016.
  • Will assist coal impacted communities and bring in $1.5 million dollars.
  • Currently, a lease property is being evaluated which will be a temporary workspace while Brookwood is completed. Brookwood’s full capacity as a technical high school and training venue for adult learners will be realized.

Worlds of Work (WOW)

  • 52 schools
  • 4,000 8thgraders
  • 500 high schoolers
  • 3 visiting states sending staff to observe
  • 200 VIP’s
  • 45 + Sponsors
  • 100 hands-on activities created by businesses
  • $70,000 financial investment
  • 20,000 ft2 of tents
  • 15 million dollars of equipment on site, from cranes to helicopters to combines
  • 300 teachers, volunteers, and industry experts
  • 850,000 square feet of total space used at Shelton State Community College
  • 1 Reason—to improve the workforce of West Alabama and change lives in the process
  • Next steps: review layout on campus, use Constant Contact technology
  • Save the Dates: October 12-13 2017
  • Media publicity with television spots on local news.

ACT Work Ready Communities

  • West Alabama Works announced as of November 17, 2016, Tuscaloosa County became the first metro community in the State of Alabama to meet all criteria to become a certified ACT Work Ready Community.
  • This achievement caps a 12-month engagement process and launches a two-year growth and maintenance phase to retain certification.
  • 108 businesses = 100%
  • Print and television media publicized the achievement.
  • Conducting meetings in December to involve other regional counties.

 Alabama Works

  • The Alabama Works name change and state project has resulted from a $1 million in promoting workforce development in the state with a common brand.
  • ALABAMA WORKS! Is the new brand, which received tremendous approval in focus groups. We will not need to change much, as Region 3 is already WEST ALABAMA WORKS! The new website will launch on February 15th, and will appeal to inquiries by job seekers, employers, and students, serving as a One Stop shop to post and locate jobs.
  • Donny Jones was interviewed by a reporter from Business Alabama Magazine.


West Alabama Works

  • The new State branding campaign aligned with our existing name. A brochure which tells the WAW story is being developed currently.  This will help serve as a “boiler plate” to tell our story and make outreach more simplified and consistent.
  • Clusters continue to drive progress. The most recent Manufacturing Cluster meeting illustrated an interest in incentive programs typically utilized by Phifer Wire.  As these funds are under-utilized by businesses, additional in-depth training will follow on specific programs.
  • Other counties are learning how to implement Workforce Development activities via meetings and training with Donny Jones.
  • Hired full time WFD Project Manager.
  • Three years private funding secured.
  • Cheddar’s Emergency Hiring Fair conducted September 30th, with 30 employees hired by various Tuscaloosa businesses.

Region 3

  • Region 3 has expanded to include Sumter and Marengo Counties.
  • Bylaws required modification and approval to include Sumter and Marengo Counties. 2017 officers will remain the same.
  • Gary Nichols and Randy Skagen will remain in their current roles of Chair and Vice Chair, respectively, with Donny Jones continuing as Secretary/Treasurer.
  • Sumter and Marengo County Members now part of Region 3 are Roger Willis from WestRock, Cody McElroy from McElroy Trucking, Alejandro Perez from Cemex US, and Leslie Emory from Prystup Packaging.
  • John Guest as a voting member of the Regional Council.

Injection Molding

  • Currently WAW along with Shelton and Bevill State Community Colleges are developing an industrial program which will teach core components of industrial maintenance. This program will allow students to choose particular tracks in the industry such as traditional industrial maintenance, injection molding, mechatronics, and other electrical maintenance programs.
  • The focus is to tie employer lead apprenticeship programs, direct hires, and OJT incentives to encourage students to pursue this type of training.
  • Focused marketing is directed to the base program and not to individual tracks this allows students and their parents to begin a program and determine directions later in the training process.
  • To date, $1,250,000 has been raised to support the manufacturing workforce partnership’s work. An additional $2,000,000 in funding over the next three years will be needed. Sustainability Grant funding will support the implementation of the CNC Machinist Training, Career Technical Programs, apprenticeships, and the new industrial maintenance track program.


Current Projects

Apprenticeship West Alabama

Workforce need addressed:  The apprenticeship program is an earn while you learn training model.  It will increase the workforce pipeline while providing industry standards in certain occupations.

Scope:   The apprenticeship programs will be DOL registered programs.  The youth apprenticeships will focus on high school students.  The pilot program will be in logistics at the Brookwood Technical High School.  The adult apprenticeships are for adults and the pilot program for it will be in carpentry.  All apprenticeships have a required amount of classroom hours and on-the-job training hours, although it varies by trade.   New:  also looking at hospitality curriculum.  Bob Johnson reaching out to Toby Wilson of Wilson Hospitality.

In both adult and youth apprenticeships, Business/Industry and the Schools (SSCC and Tuscaloosa City and County Schools) will work to identify the skills required and the curriculum.

Shelton State and the Alabama Department of Commerce have staff dedicated to the apprenticeship program, with Jason Moore at SSCC leading the effort in West Alabama and Frank Chestnut and Sherry Deloach for the state.  Also, Ron Dixon is involved in approving the prospective programs.

Funding Sources:  The funding sources vary.  Grants will cover some of it, but primarily employers will pay for their employee/apprentice to complete the program.  Individuals who wish enroll in the courses, but are not employees of a sponsoring business, will pay for their own tuition (but will not receive OTJ training).  The ARC has designated a $150k grant to this program, pending final budget approval.

The state has passed an apprenticeship bill granting $1,000 per employee (up to five) to employers for their participation in the registered apprenticeships.

Partners:  West Alabama Works (Donny Jones), Shelton State (Jason Moore), TCSS (Dennis Duncan), TCS (Kelly Norstrom), AIDT (Sherry DeLoach), Various Business and Industry Partners (will vary, but initially: McAbee, Harrison, Builders Group)

Marketing/Promotion Strategy:  Shelton State will have recruiters and businesses will advertise for apprentices.  New:  Hosting a meeting with interested businesses to have them sign up to participate.  Leveraging relationships with schools to promote apprenticeships with students and parents.  Developing an informational brochure.  Promote these opportunities in Cluster meetings and at related events. Currently, a video is being crafted to promote apprenticeships.  Toward the end of this pilot, a video will be created showcasing success stories of both business and pre-apprentices/apprentices.  It will be used for continued apprenticeship sustainability.  Will meet bi-weekly until the grant is operating on all cylinders.

Reporting/Filing Requirements:  The sponsoring business for each apprentice will be required to report the progress in the DOL RAPIDS database.  The programs will also need to be registered with the DOL.  The colleges and B&I will be responsible for this.  New:  Each quarter, a progress report is due, with a final report due at the end of the grant cycle.  Currently working on a progress report to submit before 12/30/16.  An audit can occur at select sites for up to 2-3 years following the end date of the grant.  Report was filed and accepted.

Timelines:  The adult carpentry program is began the first quarter or 2016, but is currently tabled pending decisions regarding the remaining 36 hours of classroom work.  The youth program is tabled pending legislation. Looking at a hospitality program.

Accountability/Metrics:  Success will be measured by the number of businesses served and the number of apprentices in the program.  This will be measured by Shelton State and their apprenticeship office.

Update on Shelton State’s apprenticeship efforts per Joye Jone s. 

Injection Molding

We are continuing to meet with SMP, Bolta, and Mollertech to design a non-credit apprenticeship program.  We have had seven meetings with the companies this semester and have determined specific training needs.  We are reviewing curriculum modules and getting quotes from Paulson Training and Routsis.  Training locations are being investigated as the old Brookwood High School will not be ready in time for the start-up of training.  We have investigated possible funding sources and have determined that EITP grants can be used along with WIOA and possibly other workforce grants.

Advanced Manufacturing

Based on input from Russell Dubose (Phifer), we have developed a Short-Term Certificate in Manufacturing Concepts.  We are meeting with Russell next week to review the curriculum and make adjustments as needed.  When the specific curriculum is finalized, we will submit the new STC program to ACCS and ACHE.


We are still working with Tuscaloosa Home Builders Association about a possible apprenticeship using the non-credit carpentry program.


ARD is interested in a logistics apprenticeship.  However, logistics is not included on the available occupations list for apprenticeships at USDOL.  Jason Moore has contacted Ron Dixon and requested a Rapids Code for logistics.  The current logistics credit program awards a STC, Certificate, and an AAS degree so there are various training components that can be used in the apprenticeship.


Ron Dixon is finalizing the Tool & Die Apprenticeship agreement.  Gestamp plans to enroll 3 apprentices in the Machine Tool Technology program in spring 2017.  We are waiting for Gestamp to send us the contact information for those students so we can admit and enroll them.

Brookwood Technical High School

Workforce Need Addressed:  To provide a training facility for high school students and adults for the automotive industry, specifically in regards to logistics, forklift operation, and advanced manufacturing.  Future growth will add early childhood, culinary, and hospitality programs.

Scope:  The scope of the project will entail remodeling sections of the old Brookwood High School, specifically the band room and the gymnasium.  The band room will be used as a classroom and the gym will serve as a hands-on forklift training facility and will be outfitted with a high rack system.   High School Students will use the facility during normal school hours and in the evening Shelton State will use the facility for adult instruction.

Funding:  There is a funding partnership between the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education and the business partners.  The partners for this project also sought funding from the Regions Foundation; however, the Regions Foundation denied the funding request.  The ARC has designated a $125k grant to this program.  The official notification of appropriated funds should come summer 2016.

Partners:  Phase I (logistics): Mercedes-Benz U.S. (Jason Hoff), BLG Logistics (Cerit Bryant), ARD Logistics (Don Hardy), Tuscaloosa County School System (Dennis Duncan), and Shelton State (Jason Moore)

Marketing/Promotion Strategy:  Not applicable.

Reporting/Filing Requirements:  Not Applicable.

Timeline:  The facility should be operational fall 2016.  Ellis Architects has given Harrison Construction the cost-of-work estimate, but no work can commence prior to the official notification from the ARC regarding the grant funds.  Update:  costs have exceeded initial expectations due to unforeseen issues in rehabbing the building.  Also, there was discussion about increasing thickness of concrete floor to handle injection molding equipment.  Need machine tool and injection molding offerings as well.

Accountability/Metrics:  Success will be measured by the number of students enrolled in the program and the number of graduates from the program, as reported by the TCSS CTE Director.

CNC/Machinist Task Force

Workforce need addressed:  This will increase the pipeline of highly qualified machinists, which falls under our Manufacturing Cluster, specifically the machine shops.

Scope: While we were initially looking at possibly starting a machine tool program in the K-12 system, it has been determined that the overall workforce needed does not necessitate beginning a new program.  The focus going forward will be to increase awareness in the pipeline into the current SSCC and BSCC programs.  This will be crucial for the expansion of several companies, including Smith’s Machine.

Funding:  To be determined.

Partners:  TCSS, TCS, SSCC, West Alabama Works, Machine Shops (Smith’s Machine Shop, Smith’s Precision Machine, Madsen Machine,

Marketing/Promotion Strategy:  An increased focus at WOW targeting the 9-12 grade students.

Reporting/Filing Requirements:  Not Applicable.

Timeline:  To be determined.  November update:  A task force will be promoted at the Manufacturing Cluster meeting headed by Russell Dubose.

Accountability/Metrics:  The number of students enrolled in the program.

Hale County Grant for Workforce Development

 Workforce Need Addressed: The target of this grant is to create opportunities in the automotive industry for people in distressed counties.

Scope: The $368,000 grant has four main components:

  • Funding to support adult education and TABE (test of adult basic education) testing
  • Funding for Ready to Work certificate and forklift certification
  • Funding to attend SSCC for logistics certificate which leads to supervisor role
  • WAW Navigation System

West Alabama Works will bring the RTW course to Hale county locations via the RTW Mobile Unit. There will be 20 outreach events. As of June 22, 10 outreach events have been held and we have reached more than 200 people and have 165 people starting the process of training.  During the next few months we will begin advertising the program in the Greensboro Watchman and conduct “sign up Sundays” in local churches. We will adjust our strategy during July/August before making another major push during the fall of 2016. We’ve already expedited 13 individuals into the Logistics Program and employment at ARD Logistics. Ready to Work classes begin in July.

Funding Sources: ARC and ADECA grant funds

Partners:  West Alabama Works, Community Works (Bob Johnson), Shelton State Community College

Marketing/Promotion Strategy:  A press conference was held December 11, 2015.  Additionally, 20 outreach events will be held to inform the community of this opportunity.  A meeting has already been held with community leaders who are eager to host the events. We will also begin a larger marketing strategy that will include newspaper, posters in public venues, and our first virtual job fair during a “Sign Up Sunday” in many of the local churches via laptops and smart phones.

Timelines/Deadlines: Round 1 outreach events (March – June), Logistics course and first round of job placements (June), Ready to Work classes (July – February), Logistics course and second round of job placements (August), Round 2 outreach events (September – December)

Accountability/Metrics:  Success will be assessed by Community Works and Shelton State based on the number of people enrolled in the classes and employment gained in the automotive industry.

Accountability/Metrics:  Success will be assessed by Community Works and Shelton State based on the number of people enrolled in the classes and employment gained in the automotive industry. In May 2016, ARD hired 12 students and all have received a full scholarship into the logistics program at SSCC.

Pathways Program

Workforce Need Addressed:

  • Essential job skills for at risk individuals.
  • Increasing supply of at risk individuals that are placed into employment.

Scope:  This new program is being developed and piloted in partnership with Community Works Tuscaloosa. The goal of the program is to provide a portable class that will provide essential job skills, assessment, and career plans for at risk individuals throughout the region. Participants that qualify are placed into work based learning opportunities for 6 weeks, followed by additional coaching and plan development. Currently the class is being held every other month in Tuscaloosa but will expand into Hale County sometime during 2016. The class size has expanded to 15 students.  Need to keep moving to the next level/pipeline of apprentice/pre-apprentice.

Funding Sources: $10,000 from Community Works Tuscaloosa

Partners: Community Works Tuscaloosa – Bob Johnson.  School of Social Work Students through U of A are on site.  There is (1) 30 hour a week students and 2 part time students.  Would like to garner more students if possible.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy: Pathways is being promoted through various channels that currently serve at risk young adults throughout Tuscaloosa County.

Reporting Requirements:  Quarterly


  1. Develop curriculum and assessment resources that can be taught and implemented throughout the entire region.
  2. Serve 100 individuals through the program in 2016.
  3. 90% of participants will develop an individual success plan that will guide their career path.
  4. 50% of participants that complete the program in good standing will gain long term employment.

WAW Career Connect

Workforce Need Addressed:

  • Creating a pipeline of qualified workers.
  • Connecting at risk individuals with job training and support services to improve readiness to work along with employment opportunities

Scope:   West Alabama Work is partnering with other organizations to implement this innovative and essential tool that will create a tracking system to manage the workforce development process for young adult to adults, at risk to incumbent workers, throughout the region. The cloud based system will increase service provider effectiveness, reduce inefficiencies, and help us assure that people that want to work don’t fall through the cracks.  Twenty to thirty individuals are entering info onto Career Connect per week.  There are potential people that could be looked at for GED and RTW opportunities.  Shelton State will use log-ins to check on these individuals.  Also, students fro Community Works could run reports.

Funding Sources:  $86,000+ from Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, Appalachian Regional Authority, and ADECA.


Community Works Tuscaloosa – Bob Johnson

Shelton State Community College – Jonathan Koh

University of Alabama School of Social Work

Marketing/Promotion Strategy: The Career Connect system is being promoted through more than 24 targeted outreach events during 2016.

Reporting Requirements:


Accountability/Metrics:  Follow up more than 3,000 existing names within the database.

  1. Add an additional 2,000 names during the year through targeted outreach.
  2. Develop individual success plans utilizing certified service providers for 75% of all active participants.
  3. Provide real time reporting on identified critical metrics.


Workforce need addressed:  Ready-to-Work (RTW) is a program designed to provide a career pathway for adults with limited education and employment experience.  Ready to Work (RTW) provides trainees training in basic soft skills and abilities required by most leading businesses and industries in Alabama. The RTW curriculum is designed by Alabama Industrial Development Training (AIDT) to build skills based on demands of local businesses and industries along with a nation-wide growth in technology, computer knowledge and  employment availability.

Scope:   The RTW program is taught as a 5 week class at the community colleges. Below are the essential requirements for successful completion:

  • A 95 percent attendance and punctuality rate, which must be certified by the college; (The calculation of a participant’s attendance and punctuality rate may take into account an individually-negotiated full-time or part-time attendance schedule.  Participant absences or tardies that are excused by the instructor should not be counted so as to lower the participant’s attendance and punctuality rate).
  • Instructor certification of “Satisfactory” achievement of work ethic, organizational skills, attitude and motivation based on observation and/or testing;
  • Instructor certification of “Satisfactory” achievement of problem solving skills, workplace behaviors, computer skills, job acquisition skills and manufacturing skills;
  • Attainment of a minimum WorkKeys Assessment Level 3 on Applied Mathematics, Reading for Information, and Locating Information;
  • A score of at least 70 percent on the written Alabama Certified Worker Examination.

Failure to achieve any of the requirements will result in the immediate release of the client from the RTW Program. Successful completers earn an “Alabama Certified Worker” (ACW) Certificate and a State of Alabama “Career Readiness Credential” (CRC).

Funding Sources: State-funded through WIOA

Partners: Alabama Community College System (in Region 3: Shelton State, Bevill State), AIDT

Marketing/Promotion Strategy:  Not applicable.

Reporting/Filing Requirements:  Not Applicable.

Timeline:  Not applicable

Accountability/Metrics:  Assessed by ACT Work Ready Communities’ goal system.  Note that Shelton’s program has received recognition.  Ready to Work Programs throughout the state need to be consistent/aligned.  Look at cost per student and use ITA through WIOA to fund this.  RTW needs to be a certified program under WIOA, needing to be an approved training program on the ETPL.  Currently pursuing permission from SOA to utilize WIOA funds.  May need to customize name/designation.

Hybrid Ready to Work

Workforce need addressed: Similar to the traditional RTW, it teaches basic skills to potential and current employees to help them maintain gainful employment.  In addition, it helps reduce turnover in a business.

Scope: The Hybrid RTW program is a shortened version of Ready to Work that is specifically tailored to one business.  SSCC works with the business to select coursework that will be included in the program.  The class can be administered at SSCC, or at the business.  The course is typically taught by a SSCC instructor, but they do have an option where they will “train the trainer” and employers can train their employees.

Funding Sources: Typically the business

Partners:  SSCC, Business and Industry

Marketing/Promotion Strategy:  Not applicable.

Reporting/Filing Requirements:  Not Applicable.

Timeline:  Not applicable

Accountability/Metrics:  Employee retention/turnover rates.

Mobile Workforce Unit

Workforce need addressed:  As part of our focus at West Alabama Works, the Mobile Workforce Unit is designed to deliver assessment and training opportunities in rural communities.  The mobile unit uses programs like the traditional Ready to Work.

Scope:  A Mercedes Sprinter van has been outfitted with laptops and Wi-Fi in order to deliver RTW and other classes as needed to outlying communities. The day and time of day can be set to best suit the community it is serving.  WAW has partnered with SSCC for the current unit; and Bevill State is applying for a grant for a mobile unit for outreach into Pickens, Fayette, and Lamar.  Please see the table below for Hale county outreach events to date.

23-Mar Springfield Baptist Church 90 m 25 6
30-Mar Bethlehem Baptist Church 85m   3 6
2-Apr Fullers Grocery Store (Greensboro) 90m 25 6
13-Apr First Baptist Newbern 100m 35 6
26-Apr Fuller Grocer Store 90m 15 6
29-Apr Greensboro High School 90m 50 6
6-May Downtown Greensboro 90m 15 6
13-May Hale County High School 60m 50 6
22-Jun First Baptist Moundville
TOTAL 9 695 218 48 (+ travel time)

Funding sources: GOWD funds

Partners: West Alabama Works and Shelton State Community College

Marketing/Promotion Strategy:  Will be specific to communities through planned events.

Reporting/Filing Requirements:  Not Applicable.

Timeline:  Not applicable

Accountability/Metrics:  Reporting to ARC.

Temporary Staffing Agency Task Force

Workforce Need Addressed:  Through the automotive cluster meetings, members stressed that they had an issue with some of the staffing agencies they use.  Some of the key issues are that workers are not qualified and/or have poor attendance.  Once a worker is dismissed from a business, some of the staffing agencies place them in many of the other businesses, essentially recycling the same poor-performing individuals throughout the industry.

Scope:  This task force seeks to raise the standards of the labor force provided by the staffing agencies by requiring the agency to verify training of the individuals and putting all of the individuals through a modified Ready-to-Work program before placing them in a business.   Agencies that agree to and abide by these standards will be Certified West Alabama Works Staffing Agencies and businesses in the automotive cluster/industry agree to use only these certified staffing agencies.  The task force is in the final stages of completing the draft program outline.  Discussions with staffing agencies have been positive and many of the agencies are being proactive in training their employees.

Funding:   Not applicable.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy: Through WAW

Partners:  Currently the partners are: Mercedes-Benz, ARD Logistics, BLG Logistics, MacLellan, Bolta, SMP Automotive and ZF.  Shelton State will also be partnering as needed. This list will expand once the project is in later stages of development.

Timeline: Official implementation is TBD.  The next meeting for further discussion will be late July.  Conversation is still relevant but has not been top priority.

Accountability/Metrics:  Through the number of WAW Certified Staffing Agencies and the increase in retention rates.

WOW (Worlds of Work)

Workforce need addressed:  The purpose of this expo is to create awareness about exciting career options among students and educators while addressing workforce needs in the region. Existing employers in the region continue to have unfilled job openings due to a shortage of skilled workers. In addition, employers face additional shortages over the next few years due to retirements of up to 75% of their workforce.

Scope: Over a two-day time span, approximately 4,000 eighth grade students converge on Shelton State’s campus with the event presenting  real-life simulations of available career options  by top employers in our region.  The event will include over  100 companies showcasing their careers in different “worlds”:  Agriculture, Construction, Energy and Utilities, Engineering and Environment, Healthcare, Hospitality and Tourism, Manufacturing/Automotive/Logistics, Public Safety, and Transportation.  There is also a late afternoon event for high school students and their parent/guardian to attend, including a major focus on the 2-4 year experience.  In 2016, approximately 500 high school students participated.

Funding Sources:  Sponsorships (too many to list, please visit

Partners: Area business and industry, Shelton State, West Alabama Works, K-12 systems in Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Pickens, Sumter, Marengo,  and Tuscaloosa counties.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy: Social Media (Facebook and Instagram), targeted digital banner ads, targeted direct mail ads, newspaper ads, email ads, posters, news articles, school flyers, schoolcast calls/texts, and radio PSA’s. Giveaways, including scholarships are being promoted to help drive the 9-12 grade students to the event.  In 2016, a scholarship was awarded to either Shelton State to one individual attending the high school event.  A press release was written about the student and submitted to the State workforce newsletter, The Tuscaloosa News, and Druid City Magazine.

Timelines/Deadlines:  The 2016 event will be October 13-14.  The high school event will be October 13, 3-7 pm.  The 2017 event will be October 12 and 13 2017.

Accountability/Metrics:  Success will be measured by the increase in technical enrollment five years from inception.  Also through an improved graduation rate five years from inception.

Aliceville Financial Literacy

Workforce need addressed:  Manufacturing businesses in Aliceville informed us that they had a major problem with attendance due to employees needing to take off work to make payments on title loans, etc.  Providing a financial literacy class to these employees will teach them how to better manage their money and thus increase work attendance.

Scope: The details for this program have not been finalized, but the plan is for the class to be taught on a Saturday.  Area churches will provide childcare so adults will be available to attend.

Funding Sources:  TBD

Partners:  TBD

Marketing/Promotion Strategy: TBD

Timelines/Deadlines:  TBD

Accountability/Metrics:  The success will be measured by engagement in the class and reporting from the area businesses who have employees in the program.  Please note that this has been dropped because the mayor is not involved at this time.


ACT Work Ready Community

Workforce need addressed:  This initiative aligns workforce training programs with the economic development needs of communities, and matches applicants to jobs based on skill level. A certified Work Ready Community helps workers understand what skills are required by employers, and helps businesses communicate their workforce needs to education and workforce training programs.

Scope: Tuscaloosa is on target to be the first county in the State to receive this designation, it will immediately followed by the other counties in our region.  To receive the designation we need support from 108 businesses.  As of June 20, we have 86 signed and we are pushing this initiative forward at every opportunity.  In Tuscaloosa County we have recorded:

  • Emerging: 2,608 have NCRC
  • Current: 542 have NCRC
  • Transitioning: 491 have NCRC
  • Total: 3,641 have NCRC
  • 86% of goal reached

Funding Sources:  West Alabama Works

Partners: ACT, Tuscaloosa City and County Schools, Shelton State, more than 108 businesses.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy: Face-to-face meetings with local businesses and individual emails.  Julie Hindall did a feature on November 21 with reporter for Fox 6 news and a press release was issued by Amy at the Chamber of Commerce to members once the 100% designation was reached.

Timelines/Deadlines:  Working to achieve goal by September 30, 2016.  UPDATE:  West Alabama Works announced as of November 17, 2016, Tuscaloosa County became the first metro community in the State of Alabama to meet all criteria to become a certified ACT Work Ready Community. This achievement caps a 12-month engagement process and launches a two-year growth and maintenance phase to retain certification.  108 businesses = 100%

In a month’s time about 20 more companies signed up to reach goal.  Nicole and the team at Shelton State were acknowledged for their efforts and testing, reaching their goal.  Sumter was also mentioned as the first county in the state to be certified.  Having a Work Ready community makes the region more attractive to industries, and helps with grant applications.  So, it is imperative that all counties in the region become ACT Work Ready Community.  Work will now begin to secure this designation in all counties, with Donny Jones meeting with community leaders to get them signed up to do so.

Regional Reps (WAW, Shelton, Beville) will attend ACT WorkReady Communities Academy in March, June, September, and December.  This will allow the reps to be trained to educate regional members and achieve ACT Work Ready Communities goals.

A WorkRedy Communities Support Form was signed by the Chair of the County Commission in Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marengo, Pickens, Walker, and Marion Counties.  Sumter and Tuscaloosa did not need to re-sign this document, as both are already ACT Work Ready Community certified.

Accountability/Metrics:  Assessed by ACT Work Ready Communities’ goal system.  There is a two-year growth and launch phase to retain certification.

WIOA/Regional Council Realignment

Workforce need addressed:  The plan to align the Federal Workforce Development Boards (WDB) with the State Regional Workforce Councils (RWC) will promote a more efficient, effective, and cost-saving workforce system in our state.  Rural communities, who have traditionally been left out, will be better served and be a significant focus of the newly developing regions.

Scope: Currently, the state is divided into 10 RWC’s. With the new plan, the state will be divided into 7 RWC’s centered around population centers, economic sectors, industry clusters and commuting patterns.  Currently, there are 3 WDB’s (Mobile County, Jefferson County, remaining 65 counties), the new plan will increase the number to seven, aligning WDB’s with each RWC.

Funding Sources:  WIOA (federal dollars) funds the WDB’s.  The State is providing $145k for each RWC.  The RWC’s are also funded by business and industry.

Partners: WIOA, Alabama Department of Commerce, Alabama Workforce Council, Alabama Development Board, Business and Industry.

Marketing/Promotion Strategy: Marketing will be done through the State.  Individual meetings with leadership being held on December 12 and 13, 2016 in their respective communities.  Meetings have occurred statewide and signatures wil be submitted by the communities to Ed Castille’s office.  Workforce Boards will be in place by July 1, 2017.

Timelines/Deadlines:  WDB’s: July 2017; RWC’s: October 1, 2016

Accountability/Metrics:  State reporting and evaluations by the Department of Commerce

Injection Molding

  • Currently WAW along with Shelton and Bevill State Community Colleges are developing an industrial program which will teach core components of industrial maintenance.  This program will allow students to choose particular tracks in the industry such as traditional industrial maintenance, injection molding, mechatronics, and other electrical maintenance programs.
  • The focus is to tie employer lead apprenticeship programs, direct hires, and OJT incentives to encourage students to pursue this type of training.
  • Focused marketing is directed to the base program and not to individual tracks this allows students and their parents to begin a program and determine directions later in the training process.
  • To date, $1,250,000 has been raised to support the manufacturing workforce partnership’s work. An additional $2,000,000 in funding over the next three years will be needed. Sustainability Grant funding will support the implementation of the CNC Machinist Training, Career Technical Programs, apprenticeships, and the new industrial maintenance track program.

POWER Grant Initiative 2020

  • This ARC grant focused on impacted communities by the coal industry layoffs. This will include Tuscaloosa and Fayette primarily, but other counties surrounding will benefit.  Received word in January 2017 that the grant funds have been approved.  Strategic planning meetings occurred prior to approval of grant and will continue to launch the program and obtain quick wins.   Will assist in the build out of Brookwood High School (with exception to Logistics program).  Will also allow for a pop-up center in Brookwood while High School is being completed.  All clusters will be represented in curriculum for dual enrollment classes in the daytime.  In the evening, Shelton State will utilize the space for classes.  Thus, both youth and adult learning needs can be met in one location to bridge the critical skills gap.

Alabama Works!  West Alabama Works

  • Statewide marketing campaign – Two WAW Steering Committee members are heavily involved with this initiative. Ideas Group was contracted for the campaign, which launched late 2016. Alabama Works! is one unifying state brand that incorporates education, economic development, and workforce partners. Each region is designated with the same branding and messaging for consistency.  Each region has trained Brand Ambassadors, who will spread the message of making a promise to the State of Alabama, its workforce, and its businesses.

Central High Schol RTW PILOT

  • January 9th marked the launch date for a hybrid Ready to Work program involving local industries and a local staffing service, Onin. Thirty students from Central High School who are seeking work upon graduation rather than persue additional education were selected to participate.  This program combines the notable 5 week RTW curriculum at Shelton State Community College, one week of instruction for each industry cluster in the region, industry tours, Work Keys assessments, and job search skills.  This creates an 18 week, 3 hour per day class in which students will graduate with an NCRC (going for Gold), CPR, and OSHA 10 certifications.  Students learn valuable soft skills through the Ready to Work program, which are reiterated in a daily clock in and clock out mechanism.  Students use a  sign in badge featuring a RTW logo they designed.  Every credential obtained by the students will be stored in Onin Apps for accessibility and convenience.  Once this program has been fully executed as part of the pilot, the intent is to replicate it in schools throughout Region 3.  Other regions will customize the business participants based on their specific industry needs.

Other Projects:

  • Expansion of the mechatronics program
  • Carpentry
  • Partnership with the Industrial Development Authority for plant recruitment
  • Partnership with GoBuild’s Follow the Flag Campaign
  • Sustainability Grant—attended seminar November 2016 to review site plans and receive feedback
  • Continuing to market WAW and corresponding WFD activities in multiple avenues
  • Assisting other regions with WOW start-ups and leveraging resoures to generate more worforce development activities in their regions
  • Simulated Workplace in all counties
  • Career Technical Education Task Force (meeting July 27 at 1pm)
  • Injection molding program
  • New carpentry programs and after school program
  • Partnership with the Industrial Development Authority for plant recruitment
  • Statewide marketing campaign – Two WAW Steering Committee members are heavily involved with this initiative. (Norman Crow in the Chair of the committee) Ideas Group has been contracted for campaign.  Seeing this materialized in December 2016.
  • Partnership with GoBuild’s Follow the Flag Campaign
  • New program alignment with Hale County Career Academy
  • America’s Promise Grant in partnership with the University of Alabama School of Social Work
  • New partnership with AlabamaPossible and the Cash for College program. To engage your high school call Ashleigh Staples at 205.939.1408
  • Partnership with Alabama Career Center to support the At Risk (18 to 24) paid work experience program.
  • American Chamber of Commerce Fellowship for Education Attainment (Donny Jones)
  • National Fund for Workforce Development Sustainability Grant ($25,000); final documents and budget to be submitted.
  • National Fund for Workforce Development At Risk Young Adult Program (Casey Foundation)


National Fund (National Fund for Workforce Solutions): The National Fund is an initiative of national and local funders whose goal is the career advancement of low-wage workers using a model of substantial employer engagement. This organization alerts West Alabama Works of grants/funding opportunities that we should pursue.

Region 3 Workforce Development Council (R3WDC):  Ten Regional Workforce Development Councils (WDCA) have been established in Alabama and provide a direct link to the workforce needs of business and industry at the local level. The Councils are business-driven and business-led and work with their member counties to develop a regional strategic plan and comprehensive workforce development system that supports local economic and job development activities.  Region 3 consists of the following counties: Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Pickens, and Tuscaloosa.  It consists of approximately 22 voting members.

Steering Committee:  The steering committee serves as the executive committee of Region 3 and ultimately makes workforce decisions for our region.  Steering Committee members are leaders of businesses in our area, primarily in the five key industry “clusters” for our region (Automotive, Construction, Healthcare, Manufacturing, and Professional Services).



ADECA: Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs – ADECA is responsible for administering a broad range of state and federal programs that contribute to the department’s mission — Building Better Alabama Communities.  ADECA provides grant money that supports economic development projects, infrastructure improvements, job training, energy conservation, law enforcement, traffic safety, recreation development and assistance to low-income families.

AIDT:  Alabama Industrial Development Training – an independent agency under the supervision and oversight of the Secretary of Commerce, encourages economic development through job-specific training. Training services are offered in many areas, at no cost, to new and expanding businesses throughout the State

ARC: Appalachian Regional Commission – The Appalachian Regional Commission awards grants and contracts from funds appropriated to the Commission annually by Congress. Program grants are awarded to state and local agencies and governmental entities (such as economic development authorities), local governing boards (such as county councils), and nonprofit organizations (such as schools and organizations that build low-cost housing). Contracts are awarded for research on topics that directly impact economic development in the Appalachian Region.

CTE: Career Technical Education

EITP: Existing Industry Training Program – This program is designed to provide assistance to Alabama employers for expenses associated with skills upgrade training of their full-time, permanent company employees.

GOWD: Governor’s Office of Workforce Development

NCRC: National Career Readiness Certificate

TBI: Training for Business and Industry

WIOA:  Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act

WOW: Worlds of Work