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TEXARKANA — Bowie County officials have begun the process to become a certified ACTWork Ready Community. It joins Miller County, which signed on earlier this year with the Texarkana Regional Chamber of Commerce to develop the workforce in the Texarkana Region.

"This is a regional effort to develop a talent pipeline for our employers, and Bowie County is excited to support this initiative," said Judge Bobby Howell, Bowie County Judge.

Several community leaders recently attended an executive leadership and training program to initiate, deploy, and drive carefully tailored efforts to improve the county's work readiness. Attendees were Jennifer Harland, chairman of the Chamber board of directors; Randy Reed, executive director, Workforce Solutions Northeast Texas; Bart Spivey, program manager Workforce Solutions Northeast Texas; and Robbin Bass, business retention and expansion director at the Chamber.

Upon completion of the training, leaders met with local employers, policymakers, educators, and economic developers to reach established goals and build a sustainable WRC model to fit community needs.

The initiative "empowers states, regions and counties with data, processes and tools that drive economic growth by identifying skills gaps and quantifying the skill level of their workforce, said Bass.

"Congratulations to Bowie County for joining this initiative, and a growing list of counties in Arkansas and Texas dedicated to building a strong and resilient workforce," said Rob Sitterley, president, and CEO of AR-TX REDI. "The determination of Miller and Bowie Counties and the (Chamber) to engage in this process demonstrates active partnerships between all stakeholders in the community. This initiative will move our region forward and provide both Miller and Bowie Counties with an economic development advantage, helping them stand out nationally for their workforce development efforts."

Spivey said the four-day virtual training session synced up attendees on the importance and strategic thrust of the initiative.

"We are fairly excited to roll this initiative out and further inform local employers and the community on its benefits," he said. "One thing we hear from employers is the local workforce needs improvement in 'soft skills,' applied workplace mathematics, graphic literacy ( reading, understanding, applying instructions coming from various sources), workplace documents measuring skills of individuals, and further reinforcement on how to apply those skills to solve problems. Use of message mediums, like email documents and more."

Malone, president and CEO of the Chamber applauded the rollout.

"The ACT Workready Initiative is an effort involving both sides of the state line," he said. "Businesses will be working with certifications for workers. We encourage businesses to sign on and support the program, to help mold it and help everyone figure out what works. The program costs nothing for businesses to participate."

(For more information on this initiative, go to workreadycommunities.org online and view ACT's workforce solutions at act.org/workforce. You may also contact Bass [email protected])

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