Franklin County has been recognized as a Certified Work-Ready community.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon spent part of the afternoon Thursday, Jan. 16, at CG Power Systems in Washington to formally recognize and congratulate the county for being not only one of the first in the state to earn the distinction, but as one of the first counties in the country to be certified work ready by American College Testing (ACT).
“We hope that many counties and many communities follow your leadership on this,” Nixon said. “You all have been known as a leader, and communities across the state are seeing that, so congratulations again to Franklin County for becoming a Certified Work-Ready community and ensuring that workers have the skills needed to compete and win in the global marketplace.”
Missouri and three other states were invited by ACT to take part in the work-ready program in 2012. The program aligns the work force training program with the economic development needs of communities and matches applicants to jobs based on skill level.
The program is designed to strengthen businesses by having a stronger work force, thanks to enhanced training.
“At a time when some states are in a race to the bottom, and some political worlds are paralyzed by gridlock, here in Missouri we’re trying to move people forward by a shared commitment to ensure our work force is educated, skilled and ready to compete,” Nixon said.
The goal of the program is to have workers enter the work force ready to go. Nixon said by having prepared workers to enter the work force, businesses can focus on doing the things they do best and not waste time training.
Nixon said the first county in the nation to achieve the work-ready title was Jasper County. He said after the tornadoes in Joplin, the state and county leaders worked together to make sure that workers stayed in Joplin and helped rebuild the area.
To do that, workers needed to be trained.
“Strengthening our work force is at the center of our efforts to grow our economy and keep Missouri moving forward,” Nixon said. “And I want to state, we are moving forward.”
Nixon said that in the last four years funding for Missouri Works Training has increased by 50 percent during a time when significant budget cuts were being made. He said during the press conference his budget proposal for the 2015 fiscal year, which is set to be presented Jan. 21, will include $4.5 million in additional funds for the training program.
“When given the opportunities and the tools, Missouri workers are second to none,” Nixon said. “Missourians get up early, they stay late, quite simply, we are ready to compete.”
While Nixon made the announcement about the additional funding, Thursday’s appearance at CG Power Systems was all about recognizing the efforts of Franklin County. Nixon praised county economic developers, East Central College, local school districts, city officials and county officials for their efforts obtaining the certification.
“Franklin County is clearly showing perspective employers what Missouri workers are ready and able to do,” he said.
Nixon said the work force development advances in Franklin County have made the region a desirable location for businesses. He pointed at CG Power Systems, owned by India-based Avantha Group, as proof.
“Businesses can take their business and their jobs anywhere,” he said. “How clear is that than to sit right here to have an Indian company investing in Washington, Mo.,” Nixon said.
The governor told the packed crowd he had recently returned from Detroit where he was part of a delegation showing off two new vehicles being built in the state. During talks with other businesses in Detroit, Nixon said it was the workers in Missouri that he used as a trump card.
“As we sat across the table from company to company to company talking about the benefits of Missouri, it was the workers and the work training that continues to separate us,” Nixon said.
Nixon also touted the economic growth of the state during his speech. He said Missouri added 44,000 new jobs in 2013 — good enough for top-10 in the United States in job growth. He said unemployment in the state has been below the national average for 51 straight months now and is currently a full point lower.
When all was said and done, Nixon again praised the county for achieving the work-ready status.
“You all here are now in the top echelon of not only the state, but of the entire country, by receiving this designation,” he said.