Local changing of guard unveiled; regional workforce launch detailed

Chamber luncheon twofer



Those attending the Oneonta-Blount County Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week got double their money’s worth when Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Aimee Wilson presaged the presentation of the luncheon program with a message about a pending sea change on the local scene. Thanking her associates at the Chamber for the opportunity to serve and for their support, she announced that her tenure there will come to a close Friday, Aug. 24, having served in that position since November of 2013, and that her legacy will begin Aug. 27 as publisher/editor of The Blount Countian, calling her new mission “a dream come true.” And then the show went on

Guest speakers Gus Heard-Hughes of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham and Antiqua Cleggett of Central Six Alabama Works! double teamed listeners to describe Building (It) Together, an effort based on a comprehensive survey and report on the various assets and efforts needed to strengthen the six-county greater Birmingham region’s economic future. The program will be carried out by a consortium of companies and leaders in the area. The main theme of Building (It) Together is the need for better alignment between job training being supplied in the area and specific skill needs for available jobs. In the report’s words: “The talent supply is not synchronized with employment demand in key industries.” Addressing and correcting that problem throughout the Birmingham metro region is urgently necessary. A few specifics

To summarize a few of the correctives that may be applied: (1) industry-specific training, (2) increasing the extent of co-op education/on-the-job experience, and (3) use of non-traditional training modes, such as information technology (IT) “boot camps.” Bad news: the Birmingham region is well behind other Southeastern cities in economic growth. Good news: local educational institutions are providing grads capable of creating global companies that will drive greater economic growth and prosperity in the region. Mission: to reduce outmigration of that talent and match them to jobs in specific key industries locally (advanced manufacturing, life sciences and biotechnical firms, and information technology and banking firms).