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State Appropriates Millions of Dollars for Rural Counties

At-Risk and Distressed Counties Receive Funding to Spark Workforce Development
Wednesday, October 30, 2019 | 11:00am

NASHVILLE – The state of Tennessee will use millions of dollars in grant money to help 38 distressed and at-risk counties across Tennessee bolster workforce development efforts. The funding was approved by the Tennessee Workforce Development Board and aligns with Governor Bill Lee’s rural initiatives.

The Rural Initiative Funding Opportunity Announcement (RIFOA) has made $3 million in funding available to local workforce development boards to support workforce expansion efforts in the targeted counties.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) accepted grant applications from the counties and determined the amount of funding each recipient would receive. The state’s 15 distressed counties will split $2.1 million of the $3 million in grant money, with the remaining $900,000 divided among 23 counties deemed at-risk by the state.

“In alignment with the Governor Lee’s priorities for Tennessee, we are excited to be able to make these funds available,” said TDLWD Commissioner Jeff McCord. “These grant dollars will foster the opportunity to develop and maintain a qualified workforce in the places where it is needed most.”

Each county will receive funding for specific programs local leaders feel can help address crucial workforce development needs in their areas. 

“The members of the Tennessee Workforce Development Board want to do everything we can to give the residents in our rural communities the skills that will allow them to help themselves to better job opportunities,” said board chairman Tim Berry. “These grants should provide new resources to which they may not otherwise have access, and provide them another step upward in their livelihoods.”

Tennessee’s distressed and at-risk counties face workforce challenges that do not exist in the state’s urban and metropolitan areas. Often, local leaders in rural counties are forced to navigate workforce obstacles such as geography, demography and high demand for employees, but a low supply of a qualified workforce.

Programs funded by these grants will create greater opportunities for residents in these counties to take part in skills training in high-demand growth sectors. 

Money for the RIFOA comes from the Governor’s reserve of Workforce Innovation and Opportunity (WIOA) funds. TDLWD will provide additional program guidance to the local workforce development boards which receive funding.

Distressed

Area County Amount Funded Proposal
East Morgan
Scott
Cocke
$131, 501
$150,451
$143,560
Work-Based Learning, Rural Transportation and Re-Entry for JLL
Greater Memphis Lauderdale $132,649 Proposal Pending
Northeast Hancock $147,579 Re-Entry, Customer Service Training, OSHA 10 Training, IWT in LEAN
Northwest Lake $171,698 JLL
Southeast Grundy
Bledsoe
$163,658
$118,867
OJT, IWT-Skill Up Program
Southern Middle Wayne
Perry
$112,551
$168,867
Work-Based Learning, Rural Transportation and Re-Entry for JLL
Southwest Hardeman
McNairy
$121,739
$124,036
JLL, CPT
Upper Cumberland Jackson
Clay
Fentress
$128,055
$152,748
$132,075
Youth Initiative (Rural Graduation Initiative), JLL 

At-Risk

Area County Amount Funded Proposal
East Monroe
Campbell
Union
Claiborne
Grainger
$36,749
$37,109
$38,911
$40,352
$33,686
Work-Based Learning, Rural Transportation and Re-Entry for JLL
Northeast Hawkins
Unicoi
Carter
Johnson
$34,767
$36,208
$44,135
$45,576
Re-Entry, OSHA 10, CPT and Certification, Work-Based Learning (Hawkins Co.)
Re-Entry, Industry Specific Chemistry Cohort, CPT and Certification, Work-Based Learning (Unicoi Co.)
Re-Entry, CTE, CPT, and Certification, Work-Based Learning (Carter Co.)
Re-Entry, CTE, CPT, and Certification, Work-Based Learning (Johnson Co.)
Northern Middle Houston $30,804 Certified Production Technician, Bridge to Work 
Northwest Obion
Weakley
Carroll
Benton
$41,433
$36,929
$35,668
$40,172
JLL, RAMP
Southeast Rhea
Meigs
$39,451
$29,903
OJT, IWT-Skill Up Program
Southern Middle Lewis $39,811 Work-Based Learning, Rural Transportation and Re-Entry for JLL
Southwest Haywood
Henderson
Hardin
Decatur
$34,407
$35,128
$38,730
$40,712
JLL, CPT
Upper Cumberland Warren
Van Buren
$38,911
$35,128
Youth Initiative (Rural Graduation Initiative), JLL 

Legend

Acronym Description
JLL Justice-Involved Individuals
IWT in Lean Incumbent Worker Training
IWT - Skill Up Program (Incumbent Worker Training)
CPT Certified Production Technician
CTE Career Technical Education
RAMP Re-Entry Advanced Manufacturing Program