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Warren County set to see slice of grant funds

Warren County is among eight counties in Pennsylvania and three in Ohio to benefit from $2.5 million in federal grant funds aimed at expanding workforce development.

The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration recently awarded $29,175,000 in demonstration grant funds to expand the impact of workforce development efforts in the Appalachian and Delta regions through the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) grant initiative. The efforts focus on rural areas hit hard by economic transition that are recovering slowly.

WORC grant applicants sought funds ranging from $150,000 to $2.5 million. The local recipient of the grant funds was West Central Job Partnership, Inc. for the full $2.5 million.

According to information provided by the Department of Labor, grant funds will be used to create local and regional workforce development solutions that meet with existing economic strategies. Grants also provide enhanced training and support to dislocated workers, new entrants to the workplace and incumbent workers. Individuals affected by substance abuse disorder may also receive services through the grant.

“West Central Job Partnership (WCJP) is serving as the grant recipient, but the project will be applied across an 11-county region which does include Warren County,” said Eric Karmecy, Division Chief, Operations and Special Projects, West Central Job Partnership, Inc. “This includes NWPA Job Connect who is one of four participating workforce development boards…”

“To what extent will this project will impact Warren County? That depends on the demand and participation from the local business community,” he said, “as well as the willingness of area service providers to assist. In the next few weeks, we’ll be reaching out to stakeholders throughout the entire footprint to remind or inform them of the project and gauge interest. There will be an introductory webinar on November 15th at 1 p.m. We hope to have representation from Warren County in attendance.”

A letter in support of the grant being awarded to WCJP was signed by representatives of Pennsylvania Local Workforce Development Boards in Mercer and Lawrence counties, and in Clarion, Crawford, Erie, Forest, Venango, and Warren counties, as well as Ohio Local Workforce Development Boards in Mahoning and Columbiana counties, and Trumbull County.