The North Carolina Department of Commerce has awarded 20 special grants to 11 local workforce development boards, totaling $8.45 million, Governor Roy Cooper announced today. Boards will use the grants to help jobseekers and small businesses with training and other services in response to a tight labor market. These include programs for individuals who are in the reentry process and individuals with or at risk of substance abuse. Federal American Rescue Plan Act funds are supporting this initiative.
“In today’s changing economy, we must help more North Carolinians overcome barriers to entering the workforce, particularly individuals reentering after incarceration, while also helping our employers train workers with the skills they need,” Governor Cooper said. “These grants will provide new opportunities for communities to fill good jobs and put more money in the pockets of hard-working North Carolinians.”
“As part of the state’s First in Talent strategic economic development plan, we are investing in the people of North Carolina through these innovative grants,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “Alongside our NCWorks partners, we will help increase labor force participation by preparing individuals who are involved in the reentry process, and those who have suffered from opioid addiction or other substance use disorders, for career success. At the same time, we will expand Work-Based Learning opportunities to support the small businesses that are vital to our state’s economic growth.”
The Department of Commerce awarded four NCWorks Reentry Support Grants:
- Charlotte Works Workforce Development Board (Mecklenburg County): A $200,000 grant will leverage the workforce board’s existing reentry partnership, alongside a new partnership with a minority and service-disabled veteran-owned business to help small businesses grow and help “non-traditional” talent secure employment.
- Eastern Carolina WDB (Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico and Wayne counties): A $200,000 grant will help jobseekers who are in the reentry process with job placement through NCWorks Career Centers and community partners in the Eastern Carolina local area.
- Mid-Carolina WDB (Cumberland, Harnett and Sampson counties): A $100,000 grant will recruit individuals for training and work-based learning in the skilled trades. This initiative will cover eligible participants’ tuition for a short-term training certification in the skilled trades, including the purchase of needed tools and supplies.
- Mountain Area WDB (Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties): A $200,000 grant will assist individuals who are in the reentry process and are transitioning back into the community and need assistance finding skills training and supportive services to achieve more permanent job placements.
The Department of Commerce awarded five NCWorks Substance Use Disorder Recovery Grants:
- Capital Area Workforce Development Board (Chatham, Johnston, Lee and Wake counties): A $200,000 grant will help youth with, or at risk for, substance use disorders to develop and carry out a career plan that leads to successful employment. Partners will provide wrap-around supportive services and encouragement to youth participants.
- Eastern Carolina Workforce Development Board (Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico and Wayne counties): A $200,000 grant will provide training opportunities for front-line NCWorks Career Center staff on serving customers in need of substance use recovery; in addition, selected career advisors will participate in a Peer Support program to become specialists for their centers.
- High Country Workforce Development Board (Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties): A $200,000 grant will allow community partners to provide supportive services, case management, and access to skill enhancement opportunities for participants, so they can prepare to reenter the workforce.
- Mid-Carolina Workforce Development Board (Cumberland, Harnett and Sampson counties): A $100,000 grant will connect NCWorks Career Centers to substance abuse clinics and nonprofit organizations that provide supportive services not covered by existing federal funds. Eligible participants will receive free tuition and supplies for short-term training and certificates in the skilled trades, followed by a three-month paid internship.
- Mountain Area Workforce Development Board (Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties): A $200,000 grant will assist individuals in recovery from substance use disorders through treatment support, social services, training and employment support, helping them transition back into the community with more permanent job placements.
Finally, the Department of Commerce awarded 11 NCWorks Small Business Work-Based Learning Grants:
- Cape Fear Workforce Development Board (Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties): A $450,000 grant will implement a multiple pathway approach to connect targeted small businesses and micro-businesses with job-ready talent. The program will provide sustainability and growth options, while developing talent pipelines to meet future needs.
- Capital Area WDB ((Chatham, Johnston, Lee and Wake counties): An $850,000 grant will make an impact on small businesses through an initiative to scale the board’s current small business workforce development focus to its entire service area.
- Charlotte Works WDB (Mecklenburg County): A $500,000 grant, in conjunction with the Reentry Support Grant, will leverage the workforce board’s existing reentry partnership, alongside a new partnership with a minority and service-disabled veteran-owned business to help small businesses grow and help “non-traditional” talent secure employment.
- Eastern Carolina WDB (Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico and Wayne counties): A $900,000 grant will provide services and training to connect small businesses to underserved individuals with barriers to employment, while allowing the board to employ two Business Engagement Specialists, who will target and provide intensive services to historically underutilized and minority-owned businesses in the region with 25 or fewer employees.
- Foothills Workforce Development Board (Cleveland, McDowell, Polk and Rutherford counties): A $321,000 grant will build on the existing local work-based learning program, utilizing On-the-Job Training (OJT), Adult and Youth Work Experience (WEX) and Incumbent Worker Training (IWT).
- High Country WDB (Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey counties): A $500,000 grant will focus on enhancing the availability of work-based learning opportunities, including On-the-Job Training (OJT), Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) and Work Experience (WEX), for the more than 9,000 small businesses in the region.
- Mid-Carolina WDB (Cumberland, Harnett and Sampson counties): A $400,000 grant will connect small businesses and micro-businesses to jobseekers who will be trained through education and work-based learning, covering eligible participants’ tuition for a short-term training certification in the skilled trades, including the purchase of needed tools and supplies, along with a three-month Work Experience program, followed by either direct employment or an On-the-Job Training placement.
- Mountain Area WDB (Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties): A $904,000 grant will assist local employers with 25 or fewer employees impacted by the economic conditions caused by the pandemic through a variety of work-based learning tools and entrepreneurship programs with NC IDEA and the N.C. Community College System.
- Piedmont Triad Regional Workforce Development Board (Caswell, Davie, Forsyth, Rockingham, Stokes, Surry and Yadkin counties): A $1 million grant will focus on Incumbent Worker Training to address the equitable recovery and growth of small businesses and micro-businesses that are currently facing talent shortages and skills gaps.
- Rivers East Workforce Development Board (Beaufort, Bertie, Hertford, Martin and Pitt counties): A $750,000 grant will focus on providing local entrepreneurs with additional support through training and work-based learning funding, to enhance the skills of current employees and grow their businesses with support to hire, train and retain new workers. Partners are set to include NC IDEA and N.C. Community College Small Business Centers.
- Southwestern Workforce Development Board (Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain counties): A $276,000 grant will invest in the region’s youth by highlighting meaningful career opportunities available locally. Another component of the board’s initiative will focus on fostering productive work environments, promoting talent development and enhancing business growth with work-based learning.
The source of funding for all these grants is a component of the American Rescue Plan Act, the State Fiscal Recovery Fund (SFRF), which provides $5.4 billion to North Carolina to help turn the tide on the pandemic, address its economic fallout, and lay the foundation for a strong and equitable recovery. The N.C. General Assembly appropriated the SFRF in the 2021 Appropriations Act (Session Law 2021-180).
The Division of Workforce Solutions at the N.C. Department of Commerce will soon begin accepting applications from local government agencies and non-profit organizations for workforce grants from the same funding source.
Individual jobseekers and employers interested in services funded by grants to local workforce boards should contact their local NCWorks Career Centers. Contact information is found at NCWorks.gov.