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Job Seekers & Workers


March 15, 2004
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Manufactured tour: Dr. Steve Copeland of Cookeville (third from right), who has recently been appointed by Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen as chairman of the State Workforce Development Board, recently toured Flexial, a Cookeville manufacturing plant, with state, regional, Cookeville Area-Putnam County Chamber of Commerce and Upper Cumberland Career Center officials. The tour was an offshoot of two recent meetings showcasing Cookeville to the Tennessee Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development and the Tennessee Dept. of Economic and Community Development. The Flexial tour included, from left: George Halford of the Chamber, Johnnie Wheeler of the Career Center, Pat Callahan of the Upper Cumberland Human Resources Agency, Copeland, Commissioner James Neeley of the Tennessee Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development, and Rick Larsen of Flexial.

NASHVILLE - In his recently appointed role as chairman of the State Workforce
Development Board, Dr. Steve Copeland of Cookeville intends to share good
news with Upper Cumberland employers who want a one-stop center to help fill
jobs with qualified and trained employees.

Copeland, a Cookeville veterinarian and former city councilman, is
leading the board in its charge to identify and respond to the state's needs
for quality workforce education, training and recruitment services.
Already the board is seeing the impact that 15 comprehensive Career
Centers, including the Upper Cumberland Career Center on Williams Enterprise
Dr. in Cookeville, have made at local levels.

By creating and supporting the Career Centers, the Department of Labor
and Workforce Development is saying to local employers, "We are sensitive to
your needs and can help you fill your job openings," said Copeland.
This region's employers in large or small businesses, including the
manufacturing community, can both simplify and expand their searches for
qualified employees through the UC Career Center.

The center here publicizes job openings, manages on-site interviews,
pre-screens applicants, coordinates training programs and offers vocational
rehabilitation and adult education.

The UC Career Center houses all these services under one roof, adding
convenience and additional resources for employers.

The centers were created to transcend traditional program boundaries so
that employers can save time and money in their search for qualified,
pre-screened job applicants.

"Established businesses in our community now have access to benefits
often earmarked to attract new industries and companies," said Copeland.
"Jobs created and sustained by established businesses are just as valuable
as the jobs promised to the area by new businesses."

"For example," Copeland said "if a local employer needs assistance hiring
and training a few new employees each month, that becomes just as much of a
priority to the UC Career Center as helping a new employer promising to
bring 25 or more jobs to the community."

In order to remain responsive to business communities they serve, all
Career Centers operate under local workforce investment boards able to
tailor services to the area's needs. The board looks to local investment
boards to evaluate performances and ensure funds and resources are being
used effectively.

The 15 Career Centers operate within 13 Local Investment Areas. Johnnie
Wheeler, a State Workforce Development Board member, is coordinator of the
local Workforce Investment Area Seven, which includes Putnam and 11
surrounding counties.

The State Workforce Development Board, which includes legislators,
business leaders and members of Gov. Phil Bredesen's cabinet, recently held
a meeting in Cookeville. Copeland, who was appointed chairman by Bredesen,
said the meeting provided visibility for local efforts.

Copeland said Commissioner James Neeley of the Dept. of Labor and
Workforce Development arranged for the board to meet recently in Cookeville
as part of his desire to be certain that all communities are fully aware of
the services that are provided by his department and the Career Centers.
"The visit allowed us to showcase our community, people and resources,
and demonstrated the support provided to us at the state level," said

That support also is evidenced in the more than $2 million allocated to
the region this year for workforce development.

Copeland predicts that over time employers will consider the UC Career
Center as a primary source for personnel needed to fill job openings.
"Federal dollars support this direct effort to offer businesses a single
point of contact where supply meets demand," he said.

Employers who want more information about the UC Career Center should
call 520-8733 locally or 615-741-1031 for more information from the
Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

WD Stone and Associates/Herald-Citizen.