How to expand the impact of workforce development to other communities

Coastal Alabama Community College can provide workforce development in an area that serves a high-needs community after leasing space in the recently repurposed Baldwin Center

Coastal Alabama Community College will provide hospitality and tourism workforce development in a business and workforce development center owned by a local company. The area is the seventh most vulnerable place in the U.S. to sustain job losses as a result of COVID-19, according to Chmura Economics, a secondary sources for labor data.

“Our primary objective was to provide services in one of our populated areas away from our main campus and found an area about 18 months ago with the highest concentration of folks without GEDs or folks with high school diplomas who haven’t enrolled in four-year institutions,” says Josh Duplantis, Dean of Workforce Development.

In the area that Coastal Alabama chose, a vacated call center had been vacated by a major telephone company, which the owner planned to transform into a business complex. The owner had already begun collaborating with the chamber of commerce to bring business there when Coast Alabama requested to join the partnership.

Plans for the workforce development center

Coastal Alabama officials leased a space in March, just when schools closed due to COVID-19, but they plan to provide workforce development for the companies there once the business and college workforce center opens. “It will be a one-stop shop,” says Duplantis. “It’s really hard for folks who are trying to navigate workforce development at their local community college and then have to go somewhere else for apprenticeships. But this will all be under the same roof. You will only have to park once.”

Duplantis also hopes to provide training for people with minor offenses so they can find employment rather than face more punitive measures.

“When you serve a large area, everyone wants you in their community, but from a business standpoint, it’s not always possible,” says Duplantis. “But entering a partnership with willing participants makes it possible for community colleges to meet the needs of those we serve. It really takes a village.”

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