Five recipients of “Impact Partnership” grants announced Thursday will use funds to strengthen the state’s workforce to meet critical industry needs, the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development and Governor’s Council for Workforce and Economic Development said.

Among other things, money will be leveraged to create and sustain heightened levels of collaboration between key players in workforce and economic development, including businesses, schools, and community and government organizations. A specific goal will be to increase numbers of young people and other Oklahomans trained to fill jobs in high-demand occupations, including in the state’s aerospace, health and infrastructure sectors.

According to a news release, five applicants for grants were selected to receive up to $175,000 to invest in industry-led, collaborative community projects. A total of $1 million in funding will be allocated to awardees, extension projects, and regional workforce boards.

Impact Partnership grant recipients identified included:

• The Oklahoma Rural Water Association, which represents 352-member utility systems and partners across the state. The association intends to work with education and community leaders to create a sustainable workforce to meet essential water sector needs of Oklahoma.

• The STEAM Engine, which identifies as a collaborative of companies involved in architecture, engineering and construction, or AEC, including ADG, Blatt Architects, CMS Willowbrook, Guernsey and J.E. Dunn. The STEAM Engine intends to build an “ecosystem” that leverages community and partner resources to create a thriving AEC workforce.

• The Enid Regional Development Alliance, which plans to use funding to promote careers in aerospace.

• The Broken Arrow Economic Development Corp., which will promote STEM education, training and career pathways.

• The Southern Workforce Board, a consortium involving the Southern Workforce Board, Murray State College and the Executive Committee of “JBAMM” representing the Johnston, Bryan, Atoka, Marshall and Murray county regions. The board’s goal will be to create a health care sector partnership to aid in building a talent pipeline to meet current and future health care industry workforce needs.

“The purpose of Impact Partnership grants is to connect business and industry with workforce services through local collaboration and leadership. The application process was a road map for success and the five awardees are on their way to making a lasting difference for Oklahoma’s workforce,” Office of Workforce Development Executive Director Don Morris said. “Special thanks to the Governor’s Council for making these grants possible.”

According to the release, the Oklahoma Office of Workforce Development also has offered qualifying awardees from last year a $50,000 extension to continue work in the coming fiscal year.

Article by: Journal Record Staff, 7.28.22