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Communities Finding Labor Asset in Displaced Workers

After suffering mass layoffs, locations are leveraging their displaced labor pools to entice new businesses to set up shop.

2011 Directory
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Georgia's ARRA-funded Be Work Ready program is one of the most active, and upgrades the skills of unemployed workers to help them gain a competitive marketplace advantage. When a percentage of workers in a community or county have been trained, the area can achieve Work Ready certification and, with the help of the Georgia State Workforce Investment Board, can market its available work force as an incentive to prospective industries, especially Georgia's fast-growing aerospace, advanced communications, advanced manufacturing, bioscience, energy, and logistics industries.

Back in California, the economy is increasingly dependent on green technology. Strong job growth is expected in industries such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and recycling. State and local governments are working with the private sector to transition workers to green jobs. Nearly $100 million in ARRA funds and state, local, and private aid is available to help teach Californians green job skills. Community colleges and the Clean Energy Workforce Training Program (CEWTP) are also striving to make California a green technology leader by providing the skilled workers these companies need.

In northern California, where natural resources industries have been declining for years, more than 4,000 timber industry workers are currently unemployed. Audrey Taylor, president of Chabin Concepts, a economic development consulting firm in Chico, is working with state and local governments to train and place unemployed workers in renewable-energy installation and green building jobs.

"These people have special skills in milling and advanced manufacturing that can be easily transferred to building green products and renewable energy equipment," Taylor says.

California is poised to become a hotbed for green industries due to strict regulations that require the state to decrease its greenhouse gas emissions. "More than three-quarters of the goods that come into this country from overseas are transported through California," Taylor says. "This means that all these light- and heavy-duty trucks must be refitted with new fuel systems, a huge market that will require thousands of workers with specific skills."

According to Canup, "The number and quality of experienced people available for work is unprecedented." Considering the increasing signs of economic recovery, "Companies that have been considering new investments should seriously consider moving forward with their plans. Employers opening or expanding operations will find a large pool of available, talented, and experienced workers. Combine this with the shrinking value of the dollar and the reduced cost of construction in the United States, and companies will find an attractive expansion opportunity."

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