Boone, Cooper and Cedar counties have become the latest Missouri counties to earn Certified Work Ready Community (CWRC) status. CWRC is an American College Testing (ACT) designation program that recognizes successful efforts by community, education and business leaders to strengthen workforce training and development in order to meet the economic development needs of their communities.
“Certified Work Ready status demonstrates Boone County’s commitment to support rigorous workforce development and provide a strong workforce for our employers,” said Boone County Commissioner Karen Miller. “This certification strengthens our local economy by helping job seekers document their skills and find appropriate employment, empowering employers to identify applicants with job-specific skills, and showcasing our community’s strong workforce to potential employers of the future.”
Boone County saw an almost immediate benefit from its CWRC designation when American Outdoor Brands announced they would be constructing a new 500,000 sq. ft. distribution center, creating more than 300 new jobs in the county.
“Earlier this month, I sat down with James Debney, the CEO of American Outdoor Brands, in our office and told him about our vision for a state with more jobs and bigger paychecks,” said Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. “They are committed to growing with our state and creating jobs for the people of Missouri. Our top priority is bringing more opportunities to the people of Missouri and growing our economy. We’re fighting for more jobs every day, and we’re grateful for strong leaders in the private sector who recognize the strength and potential of Missouri’s workforce. We are thrilled to announce more investment and hundreds of jobs from a great company in Missouri.”
Participation in CWRC is voluntary and guided by key community leaders such as local elected officials and local economic development companies. This helps to show businesses that the communities they are considering are actively working to promote themselves and the workforces they have available.
“Missouri continues to lead the way with Certified Work Ready Communities as our counties work tirelessly to make sure we have the best talent a state can offer,” aid Mike Downing, acting director Missouri Dept. of Economic Development. “Through this designation, Cooper County now has the proof to back up their quality workforce. Cooper County’s certification makes the state more competitive and also helps close the skills gap within our state and county as the demand for tech and STEM experience increases.”
The CWRC program provides members of the workforce with National Career Readiness Certificates (NCRCs), a work-related skills credential providing objective documentation of an individual’s skills that is accepted nationwide by many employers. ACT has awarded more than 78,000 National Career Readiness Certificates to workers in Missouri, including more than 6,500 certificates to Missouri veterans.
In 2012, Missouri was selected to be one of the first four states to participate in the CWRC initiative, and in 2013, Jasper County became the first CWRC in the nation. Missouri now has 84 counties that are actively participating in the CWRC initiative and 39 fully certified counties.