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Sen. Browne Helps LVEDC Secure Funding to Expand Business Outreach, Talent Supply Efforts

By Colin McEvoy on October 29, 2018

The LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council meeting in September 2018 to discuss the recently-completed talent supply study.

The LVEDC Education and Talent Supply Council meeting in September 2018 to discuss the recently-completed talent supply study.

State grant funding secured for the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) will allow the organization to continue to expand its ongoing efforts to understand regional labor needs and better match training with worker demand.

The $300,000 state grant, which LVEDC secured with the leadership of state Sen. Pat Browne, is being used to fund and expand the organization’s Business Outreach Program (BOP), as well as its Education and Talent Supply Initiative.

“The number one issue employers face in the U.S. and here in the Lehigh Valley is finding skilled workers,” said Don Cunningham, LVEDC President & CEO. “Developing data-driven, innovative and cost-effective workforce strategies has always been a priority for us, and this funding will help us in working toward those goals.”

The state funding will allow LVEDC to build on the work accomplished by a $200,000 grant the organization previously received with help from state Senator Pat Browne from the Commonwealth in 2016, expanding business outreach and support programs.

“This grant will help LVEDC achieve its goal of determining how best to match employers with job openings with qualified candidates who have the necessary skills and training to fill those positions,” Browne said. “I’m proud of the work LVEDC continues to do to strengthen the attractiveness of our region to businesses and to help make our area a top choice for job creators and workers to want to work and live.”

Four years ago, LVEDC committed to hiring a regional coordinator to work with 20 regional groups and local governments to start the BOP, which calls on key businesses in critical sectors and acquires data on issues and obstacles facing Lehigh Valley companies

Through this outreach, in a roughly two year span through March 2018, LVEDC completed 106 business outreach visits with only one dedicated staff position. Approximately 90 percent of the companies were referred to regional partners for additional services and required after-care.

Jobs retained by those companies amounted to more than 16,860, with new jobs to be created in the next three years projected at 866. Those numbers do not reflect additional business outreach visits since March 2018, nor does it include visits from some companies that did not disclose jobs data.

“The goal of the program is to provide businesses with a single point-of-contact for all of their needs, and to help to identify resources to assist them in succeeding in today’s competitive environment,” said Melody Bradford, LVEDC Director of Business Outreach. “Businesses have often received assistance in workforce training and recruitment, exporting, strategic and business planning, financing, and more.”

Additionally, two years ago, LVEDC formed the Education and Talent Supply Council, an unprecedented partnership between Lehigh Valley educational institutions, major employers, and economic development and workforce agencies.

The council’s mission is to develop current workforce supply and demand data, and to create and execute regional strategies that help maintain a workforce and talent supply. That has included the recent release of a year-long study to assess the regional talent market and identify wide-ranging strategies to grow, recruit, develop, and retain talent in the Lehigh Valley.

“This study, and our ongoing talent supply initiative will help us sustain a world-class talent pipeline and establish the Lehigh Valley as a region that other communities look to as a leader in understanding talent supply,” said Karianne Gelinas, LVEDC Director of Talent Supply.

The new $300,000 grant will allow LVEDC to enhance and expand these business engagement and data collection efforts, through an active and dynamic business calling program, a comprehensive intake and referral process, and a proactive response to service delivery gaps and issues identified from client feedback.

“The regions that supply the most abundant and qualified workforce will be the winners of tomorrow’s jobs,” Cunningham said. “Developing that workforce is a key economic development priority for us, and we’re very grateful to Senator Browne for his help in securing additional funding and his continued support of LVEDC’s efforts.”

Don Cunningham: Literacy Center Provides Pathway to Citizenship and the Workforce

This column, written by LVEDC President and CEO Don Cunningham, originally appeared in The Morning Call and on the newspaper's website on October 17, 2018. (Click here to read[...]

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