The Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation has received a grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority Economic Development with a match from local community partners to work on preparing, upskilling, and reskilling the local workforce.
The $152,000 grant will fund the Skills Plus program, which will develop a stronger workforce and enhance economic development in Lafayette County.
Working with educational institutions like the Oxford School District and Northwest Mississippi Community College, the grant will provide opportunities for students and adults alike to explore career pathways that are connected to regional workforce opportunities in Health Sciences, Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing.
Jon Maynard, President of the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation, said he was grateful to partner with TVA ED on such a great project.
“It’s great that we have a partner like TVA who encourages innovative ideas to promote workforce and economic development in our region,” Maynard said. “Hopefully, this can be a model for other communities about how they can support and build out their workforce in order to increase economic prosperity in their areas.”
The grant includes matching funds from local and regional organizations such as Accelerate MS, Second Chance MS, Good Day Farms, SMW Manufacturing, and Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi. The funds will allow for scholarships for high school students to pursue designated career pathways at post-secondary institutions as well as develop technical skills through online platforms like Coursera and EdX.
Dr. Duncan Gray, the Director of Community and Workforce Development for the Oxford School District and the EDF office, said the program could really move the workforce needle in Lafayette County.
“The Skills Plus program is a model for how communities can collectively work together to combat the workforce challenges,” he said. “We talk a lot in the Oxford School District about pathways and students finding their fit, and this program has the opportunity to really support that goal by funding some post-secondary education as well as unique internship opportunities.
“Furthermore, it will assist not only students, but family members as well, who may want to go back to school for degrees, certifications, or training in order to improve their overall economic prosperity. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
Eligible candidates for the program will be identified and recommended for Skills Plus by educational, industry and community partners.
For more information, contact Dr. Duncan Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org or 662-234-3541, ext. 71119.