Mississippi County Arkansas' first ACT Work Ready Community

Tuesday, February 6, 2018
ACT-Regional Manager/Workforce Initiatives-Work Ready Communities Cheri Tune (far left) joins Governor Asa Hutchinson in presenting Mississippi County Judge Dr. Terri Brassfield (center) a plaque of recognition for the county's accomplishment of earning the first ACT Certified Work Ready Community distinction in Arkansas. (photo provided)

Governor Asa Hutchinson was on the campus of the Arkansas Northeastern College, Wednesday, Jan. 31, to present County Judge Dr. Terri Brassfield with an award recognizing Mississippi County as Arkansas’ first ACT Work Ready Community. The certification, previously announced by the East Arkansas Planning and Development Commission, supports Mississippi County in economic development and industry recruitment, and bolsters existing industry by linking workforce development to education and employers’ needs.

To become certified, a county must achieve benchmarks in three areas of performance: high school graduation rate, number of National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) credentials attained in the county, and number of employers recognizing NCRC. Tenaris, Southworth Products, Viskase Companies Inc., and Big River Steel LLC are just a few of the companies in Mississippi County who supported the CWRC effort.

Governor Hutchinson praised the work taking place in Mississippi County toward workforce development. His remarks were appropriately made inside the Arkansas Northeastern College’s Center for Allied Technologies currently under construction. As a leader in the state for workforce training, ANC and its customized training arm, the Solutions Group, will house its training operation in the new state-of-the-art facility which is expected to open in August of this year.

“Having this certification will allow us to fill gaps in job skills and offer needed and appropriate training throughout our service area. This will promote economic development in the community. The initiative includes workforce goals and provides businesses the training they need to build and grow their operations in Mississippi County,” said Clif Chitwood, president of the Great River Economic Development Foundation.

Mississippi County gave special thanks to Chairman Chris Masingill, of the Delta Regional Authority, for his support and funding of this initiative. EAPDD’s 12-county region-wide certification effort is supported through a grant from the Delta Regional Authority.

"The achievement of the Certified Work Ready Community status for Mississippi County is evidence of the collaborative efforts of local partners, and the ability of our local workforce. The diversity among the certification team to partner education (secondary and post-secondary) with business and industry, economic development, and local Department of Workforce Services has served to further enhance the County’s success.” stated Gene Bennett, vice president for Workforce Development at Arkansas Northeastern College.

CWRC is a voluntary initiative guided by key community leaders – local elected officials, economic development teams, business leaders, chambers of commerce, educators, and workforce development agencies. At the core of the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative is the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate™ (ACT NCRC®). Since January 2006, more than 2.75 million Americans have earned an ACT NCRC®. This national, portable credential includes three essential workplace skill categories: applied math, reading for information, and locating information. The NCRC credential is administered in Mississippi County by ANC with multiple agencies providing referrals.

"Mississippi County is proud to be certified the first ACT Work Ready County in Arkansas. This can be accredited to a strong local ACT Work Ready Partnership which is spearheaded by Arkansas Northeastern College and Mississippi County Economic Development. Other core team partners include EAPDD, the Blytheville Department of Workforce Services, and two manufacturers, DENSO, and Tenaris. We will continue to work together informing our businesses about the NCRC; and educating students, along with all levels of employees of how the NCRC can assist them in obtaining promotions. A quality workforce will lead to a better quality of life for all, in Mississippi County, Arkansas. This would have not been possible without the DRA and EAPDD bringing this initiative to East Arkansas,” said Tamika Jenkins, project coordinator for Mississippi County Economic Development.

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