As president of Eminence Speaker, Chris Rose knows how much of a benefit the recent Kentucky Work Ready Community in Progress designation can help Henry County He expects it will help the workforce, businesses and the community as a whole.
The designation means that local workers have the required skills to master jobs that innovative companies have to offer, according to state and local officials.
The recognition comes after Henry County officials and educators applied and carried out many requirements to earn the Work Ready Community in Progress status from the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board and the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, according to a May 15 press release from the state.
Work Ready status is a measure of Henry County’s workforce quality, as Henry County Public Schools Superintendent Tim Abrams put it.
In the past, prospective business and industry wanted to know if communities had a building that would work for their factory.
“Now, they want to know communities have a qualified workforce,” Abrams said. “Employers want workers who show up every day, their attendance is good, they have a good work ethic.”
The certification hinges on a county achieving certain high school graduation rates, numbers of National Career Readiness Certificate holders, demonstrated community commitment, educational attainment, digital literacy and soft skills development.
Rose found the chance to participate and help exciting.
For the Work Ready effort, Eminence Speaker offered employees the opportunity to earn their National Career Readiness Certificate during work hours, he said. Jefferson Community and Technical College made it easy by providing the preparation and testing right at the Eminence factory.
“This will not only help Henry County become a Kentucky Work Ready Community, but will also be a benefit to each employee who obtains the certification whether they remain with our company or choose to seek employment elsewhere,” Rose said.
“For Eminence Speaker LLC, having our county certified as a Work Ready Community helps our local businesses better compete in the global economy,” he said. “It improves the quality and skillset of the workforce, encourages other businesses to locate here, indirectly increases tax revenue and services, creates jobs, and improves our community as a whole.”
Employers will expect more prospective workers to have advanced training, Rose said. This Work Ready community designation shows Henry County has already gotten started fulfilling those expectations.
“As more and more communities get this certification, more employers are going to expect employee prospects to have NCRC certificates,” Rose said. “We feel like the effort is a win-win-win situation for Eminence Speaker, the community and our employees.”
While both the Eminence and the Henry County schools graduate more students with career readiness certificates, Abrams said that the effort will look to help those already in the workforce get the training they need.
“We’re hoping to engage with business and industry in conversation to give folks incentive for their employees to their career readiness certificate,” the superintendent said.
Ideas for that include giving employees who earn their career readiness certifications a one-time bonus, a pay increase or a promotion.
Kentucky development officials will use Henry County’s designation to promote it to prospective business and industry, Judge-Executive John Logan Brent said. It’s something that state cabinet of economic development will highlight when telling potential employers about Henry County.
Henry County has received this Work Ready designation early in the program, with only about 25 or 30 other counties having done so.
“You know, there are 150-plus industrial parks available in the state with available land, and 120 counties going after industry,” Brent said. “You’ve got all this competition — anytime you can differentiate yourself from your competition it’s got to help.”
This is just one of the assets that Henry County can use to reach out to new companies.
Having good workforce availability and a skilled workforce is another good thing to talk about, just like alongside having land available next to the interstate.
“It’s just another tool in the toolbox when you’re trying to recruit industry,” Brent said. “I don’t know if it will make the difference, but if you don’t do it, it may keep you from making the list.”
The committee of about 20 people from education, government, business and industry along with Rep. Rick Rand and Sen Paul Hornback did a great job pursuing the requirements of the Work Ready program, Brent said.
This effort began when Abrams approached the Henry County economic development committee, who were behind the idea 100 percent from the start, the superintendent said.
Many others joined in, including Roger Hartlage, business owner and Henry County Magistrate; Buddy Berry, Superintendent, Eminence Independent Schools; Pat Wallace, Director of Henry County Chamber of Commerce; Rex Morgan, City of Campbellsburg Mayor; Steve Dale, Director, Kentucky Connected; J. Michael Ray, Chairman Henry County Economic Development Committee; Harold Bratton, Henry County Economic Development Committee; Betty Rankin, Henry County Adult Education; Sally Adams, Safety Kleen; Brett Waford, Henry County Economic Development Committee; Christina Marsh, KCTCS Adult Education; Susan Carlisle, JCTC Carrollton Campus Director; Adam Elias, JCTC Distance Education.