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MARCH 28, 2007
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NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen and Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development Commissioner James Neeley have awarded $17,000 to ConAgra Foods in Newport, Tennessee . Incumbent Worker Training grants assist existing employers with training needs and averting possible layoffs. Over the past three years the Incumbent Worker Training grants have totaled more than $5.9 million to assist more than 24,000 employees.

"It is vital for Tennessee employers to continually train and upgrade the skills of their workers for our state to remain economically competitive," said Governor Phil Bredesen. " Tennessee businesses struggling with downsizing or layoffs can now use the Incumbent Worker Grants to retrain their existing employees in order to make their businesses more productive and the skills of their employees more valuable."

"I am proud to award this grant money to keep area workers on the job," said Commissioner Neeley. "Not only will this company benefit from the grant, but the surrounding communities of Cocke County will benefit as well."

"I am pleased Governor Bredesen and Commissioner Neeley have awarded the Incumbent Worker grant to ConAgra Foods," said Representative Eddie Yokley. "This will help keep Cocke County workers employed and help improve our economy."

"I commend the state for awarding this grant to ConAgra Foods," said Senator Steve Southerland.

Walters State Community College played a key role in awarding the grant to ConAgra Foods.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers the Incumbent Worker Training program.

The program has been structured to be flexible to meet the business's training objectives. The business may use public, private, or its own in-house training provider based on the nature of the training.

The following criteria must be met to qualify for the Incumbent Worker Training Program. Employers must be in operation in Tennessee for at least one year prior to application date. Employers must have at least five full-time employees, demonstrate financial viability and be current on all state tax obligations. Funding priority is given to businesses whose grant proposals represent a significant layoff avoidance strategy and represent a significant upgrade of skills.

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