The Laurie Moran Partnership Award is given jointly to a workforce development board and chamber of commerce that have formed a significant partnership to advance the workforce and economic development of their local region. The Partnership Award is named in honor of Laurie Moran, who served on the West Piedmont Workforce Investment Board from 2001 to 2016, and was President of the Danville Pittsylvania County Chamber of Commerce from 2002 until her passing. She was a member of the Board of the National Association of Workforce Boards from 2004 to 2015, serving as Chair from 2011 to 2013. In memory of who Laurie was and what she accomplished, the National Association of Workforce Boards has established this Laurie Moran Partnership Award to honor a workforce board and chamber of commerce that built the bridge that Laurie built in her community, and together promoted workforce and economic development in their community.
Although separate entities, the South Central Tennessee Workforce Board and Maury Alliance (the chamber of commerce for the county) have been close and strategic partners since both organizations began in the early 2000s. Shared board and committee membership, including members of the private and public sector, has paved the way for common mission and goals. Workforce Board services have been greatly enhanced and recognized through the Maury Alliance membership network with immediate feedback, especially through Maury Alliance’s existing industry network, and successful partnering to recruit new industry, grow existing industry, and maximize local and regional workforce training and skill development.
Mission and Goals
The partnership points to the mission and related goals of both organizations to ensure our region produces a world class workforce, capable of meeting the needs of our existing business and industry, and one that exceeds the expectations of new industry. Along with our education partners in both secondary and post-secondary institutions, tremendous strides have been made in aligning education with workforce needs through streamlining the pathway to post-secondary training in fields such as engineering systems technology, industrial maintenance, and machining/PLC technology.
New programs have been created to meet employer needs, resulting in a 200 percent increase in dual enrolled high school students and a 100 percent increase in graduates with an AAS or diploma in these fields. These programs, along with summer camps to introduce 200 middle and high school students to careers in manufacturing tech and information technology annually, are housed locally at the Northfield Workforce Development & Conference Center, a facility under the oversight of the SCTWA with multiple education providers and private sector employers under one roof.
The Workforce Board/Chamber partnership constantly promotes
- Development of programming with employer input,
- Education of the community about in-demand jobs and associated earnings, and
- Encouragement of secondary students as well as adults to take advantage of the state of Tennessee’s Drive to 55 programs that provide tuition-free college to Tennessee Promise high school graduates, and now to adults without a post-secondary degree, at Tennessee Community Colleges or Colleges of Applied Technology.
Most recently, we are partnering on quarterly Workforce Focus Reports – with topics developed by our Workforce Board, and researched, written, and presented by Maury Alliance and Workforce Board staff to our boards, committees, employers, media, and the public in general. These have been extremely popular, educational, and useful to our employer partners. For example, our first report – “The Rising Tide of the Millennial Workforce” – has been presented to five audiences with over 200 participants and shared online with hundreds more. The data-rich presentations provide national, state, and local information, and focus on serving as a basis for action plan development by report users.
Transformed Services - Workforce Board
Visibility in the Community: Our partnership has greatly enhanced the recognition and credibility of the workforce board through Maury Alliance’s incorporation of board staff in every aspect of the chamber’s work. Workforce board staff have served as officers of the Maury Alliance, including Chair. Our workforce board holds a standing seat on the Economic Development Council housed under the chamber’s umbrella, and board staff serve in various other membership and committee positions.
Board staff are routinely included as members of recruitment teams when courting new industry, and exchange information almost daily with our partner staff at Maury Alliance. Because of these close ties, we immediately gain access and credibility with the membership of Maury Alliance, and gain increased recognition and understanding of our services throughout the business community. Maury Alliance routinely refers their membership to the American Job Centers as they seek to fill their employment and training needs, and our continuing partnership is fed by successfully meeting the needs of their member employers.
Strategic Alignment: Through our partnership’s shared mission and goals, the workforce board has added to our scope of work by competing and winning additional proposals that complement workforce development efforts, including delivery of adult education services, manning the Tennessee Reconnect Community project to increase the number of adults going to and completing college degrees, and implementation of various Labor & Education Alignment Program (LEAP) projects. Over $4 million in additional funding has been secured through the strategic alignment of our organizations.
Transformed Services - Chamber of Commerce
Streamlined Employer Contact & Service Delivery: The partnership has benefitted both organizations’ ability to better serve our existing employer customers through shared information regarding employer needs; options for assistance with training; and skill development including OJTs, incumbent worker training, internships, and increased understanding and familiarity of employer services available through the American Job Center network. Our organizations have successfully partnered in assisting over 12 new industries to relocate or expand in the past three years, resulting in recruitment and hiring of over 2,700 new employees with wages 19 percent above the median wage for our workforce area, while contributing to the decline in the unemployment rate from double digits to less than 3 percent today!
Industry Recruitment: Our most recent notable and successful new industry recruitment resulted in landing the first US location for the premier Italian ceramic tile manufacturer, Gruppo Concorde, Landmark Ceramics, with an $80 million capital investment and 180 employees. From the initial inquiry to the production of the first tile, over three years transpired with hours of information gathering, discussion, planning, and implementation to ensure the success of the project. Today, Landmark Ceramics is one of our most valued community partners and employers, and has improved the community climate, especially of the small rural town in which it located.
Northfield Workforce Development & Conference Center: Perhaps the most monumental partnership resulted in the Northfield Workforce Development & Conference Center, a project started in recessionary 2009 under the direction of the SCTWA. The project involved the acquisition of the former GM Saturn Corporate Office 300,000+ square foot facility. It now houses both private sector lease paying tenants and public sector training institutions with the goals of job creation and increased training opportunities aligned with immediate employer needs.
Since 2010, over 1,000 jobs were created with 10 employers. Over 1,200 students have received additional training and credentials in fields including engineering systems technology, PLC and industrial maintenance, automotive technology, industrial maintenance, licensed practical nursing, emergency management technology, and paramedic certification. The site also became home to the GM sponsored Go Tech! Camps for middle and high school students with offerings in Coding, Advanced Manufacturing, and Robotics.
This has truly grown into a one-of-a-kind partnership, started with an investment by the state, with investments in training made by individuals, federal training programs including WIOA, TRA/TAA, and various state grant awards, pooled with funds generated from the commercial development side of the facility through lease payments for space occupied. Key to the success was the recruitment led by Maury Alliance in partnership with the SCTWA, of the flagship tenant, IBEX Global, a customer service BPO that serves a number of premier corporate customers throughout the world with 800 employees at the site.
Laurie Moran Partnership Award Nominees
NAWB wishes to thank all Workforce Development Boards that submitted nominations of their business partners for the W.O. Lawton award. Their efforts, and the efforts of their business partners are applauded. Click here for full nomination descriptions.
- Arapahoe/Douglas Workforce Board and Aurora Chamber of Commerce
- CareerSource North Central Florida and Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce
- Hampton Roads Workforce Development Board and Hampton Roads Chamber
- Lancaster County Workforce Development Board and The Lancaster Chamber
- Workforce Solutions Borderplex, Inc., and El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- Workforce Solutions of Central Texas and U.S. Chamber of Commerce