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Online Update of News and Events in Charlottesville

 

C'VILLE RESIDENTS GRADUATE FROM GO ELECTRIC PROGRAM
On Tuesday, July 21, 2015, seven Charlottesville residents graduated from the GO Electric Program, which is a pre-employment training program that prepares City residents for a career as a Field Electrical Worker with Design Electric. In addition to electrical training, graduates obtained training in the areas of customer service, career readiness, and essential workplace skills. According to recent GO Electric graduate Mustafa Mohammad Asif, "GO Electric was a really great opportunity that has prepared me for the work I am doing at Design Electric.  I thank everyone who was involved in the program and I hope that it is continued so that others can benefit from the training."

The GO Electric Program was developed by the City's Office of Economic Development and includes a partnership with Design Electric and Piedmont Virginia Community College Workforce Services. The program was established to help City residents attain self-sufficiency by creating workforce development training that will prepare residents for employment within targeted industries that pay a living wage.

GO Electric and other similar training programs were initiatives of the City's Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development (SAT). These initiatives were recommended in the SAT's 2013 report to City Council, Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville.

GROWING OPPORTUNITIES UPDATE
In 2013, the City's Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development (SAT) developed and presented a report entitled Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville. Following its adoption by City Council the Office of Economic Development (OED) was charged with leading the implementation of the plan.

As the recommendations were converted into actions, a series of pre-employment training programs that prepare City residents for employment opportunities have evolved. These have become known as the Growing Opportunity (GO) programs and, to date, completed programs include GO Driver, GO Office, and GO Electric. Every GO program shares several key program elements including: workplace readiness training, supportive services, mentoring and the opportunity for the participant to gain immediate employment. These elements are integrated with specific skills training provided by a training partner such as Piedmont Virginia Community College. This unique combination of soft and hard skills forms the basis of every GO program and has proven to be beneficial to both job seekers and area employers.

Recently, the OED, with assistance from Alloy Workshop, worked to unify and connect these efforts under a common brand. The graphics demonstrate the overall Growing Opportunities umbrella and an example of program specific treatment.  Future issues of this newsletter will feature regular updates on the Growing Opportunities programs developed by the City and the OED.

UPCOMING BANKON SEMINARS BEGIN OCTOBER 2015
Autumn is always an exciting time of year, but it can also be expensive. From back-to-school shopping to preparing for the holidays, the costs can add up quickly and before you know it you're walking into the new year with a mountain of debt. That is the case for many people, but it can be especially dangerous for the unbanked (no checking or savings account) and underbanked (has an account, but continues to rely on alternative financial services, like check-cashing services, payday loans, rent-to-own agreements, or pawn shops). Those that rely on expensive pay day lenders and other 'alternative' financial institutions are particularly susceptible to the potential pitfalls of overspending. BankOn recognizes this and wants to help.

Beginning October 2015, BankOn, in partnership with several area banks and credit unions, will be offering seminars to prepare people for the upcoming shopping/holiday season and beyond. With our ultimate goal of seeing citizens being self-sufficient while avoiding predatory lending, we believe that these training sessions will be one more tool in the toolkit.

BankOn of Greater Charlottesville originally was an initiative of CEO (Coalition of Economic Opportunity) but is now run like most other BankOn programs across the county as a program of the local government. Along with financial literacy seminars, BankOn offers microloans and referral services. The BankOn program also negotiates with banks and credit unions in the community to reduce barriers to banking and increase access to the financial mainstream which ultimately helps reach toward the goal of self-sufficiency and strong financial health for our entire community.

While the BankOn program is not a bank, we do have partnerships with banks that can assist those in need of a low-cost or 'second chance' banking products and services. If you would like to partner or volunteer, or if you know someone that can benefit from our referral services, please call 434-970-3933 or email us at bankon@charlottesville.org.

EIGHT CITY RESIDENTS GRADUATE FROM GO DRIVER
On Monday July 6, 2015, eight City of Charlottesville residents graduated from the Growing Opportunity (GO) Driver program. GO Driver is a pre-employment training program that prepares City residents for a career as a Bus Operator with Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) and other local transit agencies. Over five weeks, graduates obtained training in the areas of customer service, career readiness, workplace essential skills, and commercial driver's license (CDL) preparation. All eight graduates received job offers as a result of successfully completing the program and began paid, on-the-job training on Monday, July 13th.

To date, the GO Driver program has had a total of 20 graduates, with 12 individuals graduating from the pilot in November 2014. GO Driver was initially a partnership between the Office of Economic Development and CAT, but due to the overwhelming success of the first cohort, employer partnerships were expanded to include JAUNT, Charlottesville City Schools, and University Transit Service (UTS).

Due to the success of GO Driver, all of the City's workforce development GO programming (GO Electric, GO Office, and GO CNA) has seen increased interest from not only local job seekers and employers, but also other workforce development agencies throughout Virginia. Charlottesville is proud to lead the way when it comes to being a community that has a well-trained and gainfully employed workforce.  All of the current and future GO programs are initiatives of the City's Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development (SAT) and were recommended in the SAT's 2013 report to City Council, Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville.

MATTHEW MURPHY JOINS THE OFFICE OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
Matthew Murphy comes to the Downtown Job Center (DJC) after spending the past four and half years as a pastor at Portico Church in downtown Charlottesville. Prior to moving to Charlottesville, Matthew spent several years in both Southwestern Virginia and the Atlanta area as an entrepreneur, starting two businesses and two non-profit organizations. Matthew also spent many years in the finance industry as a loan officer, credit counselor, and debt collector. Matthew's experience working with all populations make him well-suited for the unique situations that often present themselves at the Downtown Job Center. We are happy to welcome Matthew to the team. Matthew's responsibilities will include assisting clients at the DJC, while also coordinating BankON of Greater Charlottesville, which provides financial literacy training to unbanked and underbanked residents.

2015 C'VILLE COMMUNITY JOB FAIR WRAP UP
Job Fair People LogoOn Wednesday, May 6th, the Charlottesville Community Job Fair was held at John Paul Jones Arena. The Job Fair, which is the largest of its kind in Central Virginia, hosted almost 1,000 job seekers and more than 250 recruiters from over 100 organizations. A wide variety of industries such as healthcare, government, staffing, and education were represented. Many of the area's largest employers participated in the event, including the University of Virginia, Martha Jefferson Hospital, and the City of Charlottesville.

The Job Fair furthers City Council's workforce development efforts by improving employment opportunities for area residents so that all may share in the economic well-being of the City. It is sponsored by the City of Charlottesville in partnership with the County of Albemarle, the Adult Learning Center, American National University, the Department of Aging and Rehabilitative Services, OAR, Piedmont Workforce Network, the Virginia Employment Commission, and the Virginia Workforce Center. For those who weren't able to attend the event, a list of participating employers and open positions is available on the Job Fair WEBSITE.

C'VILLE RESIDENTS GRADUATE FROM GO OFFICE
On Tuesday, April 28, 2015, nine Charlottesville residents graduated from the City's GO Office program. GO Office is a pre-employment training program that prepares City residents for a career in office administration. Graduates obtained training in the areas of customer service, career readiness, workplace essential skills, intermediate Microsoft Office, and general office administration.

The GO Office Program was a partnership between the City's Office of Economic Development, University of Virginia Health System, University of Virginia, and Piedmont Virginia Community College Workforce Services. The program was established to help City residents attain self-sufficiency by creating workforce development training that will prepare residents for employment within targeted industries that pay a living wage.

One graduate, who is now employed with Primary Eyecare as a Front Desk Receptionist, shared these thoughts, "Since being in the GO Office program, I have learned to use eye contact, I speak more clearly, and my confidence has soared. I owe it all to the GO Office program and everyone who was involved. This is an excellent program that helps individuals become more than a statistic; it allows us to have a career."

GO Office and other training programs like it were initiatives of the City's Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development (SAT). These initiatives were recommended in the SAT's 2013 report to City Council, Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville.

OED PUBLISHES BUSINESS RESOURCE
With several construction projects underway and more planned for the future, the OED has created a guide for local businesses to use during construction projects. This Construction Guide serves as a proactive tool for businesses facing large construction projects near their business location. The goal of the guide is to be a source of planning, offering strategies, and information to implement so that business owners can maintain customers, protect access, and successfully manage their business during the construction process. Jason Ness, the OED's Business Development Manager, stated, "The OED is dedicated to maintaining Charlottesville as a business-friendly community. We've spent the last several months organizing this guide in an effort to create this resource. We realize this guide isn't a solution to all construction project issues, but we intend it to be a point of reference for City business owners." In May, the guide will be available at oeddatatool.charlottesville.org. If you are interested in receiving a printed copy, please contact Jason at nessj@charlottesville.org.

UVA JOBS INFORMATION SESSION AND GO OFFICE PROGRAM KICK-OFF
On February 6, 2015, the Charlottesville Downtown Job Center hosted the UVA Jobs Information Session at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. This event connected recruiters from the University of Virginia Health System, the University of Virginia, and the University of Virginia Temporary Search Group with local job seekers. Seventy-eight job seekers attended the event and listened to recruiters talk about employment opportunities within their organizations, how to apply for those jobs, and best practices when applying. This event was a great opportunity for job seekers to learn about the jobs that are available, have their questions answered by the people who screen applications, and network with the same recruiters who interview candidates for employment with these organizations.

The event also served as the recruitment kickoff for the GO Office training program. GO Office is a six week training program, free to eligible participants, that will prepare City residents for a career in office administration. The curriculum of this program was designed in part by the same recruiters who spoke at the UVA Jobs Information Session. Recruitment is currently underway for the GO Office training program and training will begin in mid-March. Upon graduation, participants will be equipped with the knowledge and training needed to make them more competitive when applying for positions with UVA Health System.

This event provided a great opportunity for recruiters and job seekers to connect and network. Job seekers who attended the event were able to see what employment opportunities exist at the University of Virginia Health System and University of Virginia and get advice that will help them navigate the application and interview process. The event was declared a success by the recruiters and job seekers alike and, as a result, University of Virginia recruiters will be coming to the Downtown Job Center two days each month to meet with job seekers on a one-on-one basis.

OED PRESENTS TO CHINESE DELEGATION
On January 30th, the Office of Economic Development (OED) gave a presentation to a group of 24 representatives from the Chinese province of Guizhou. This delegation hosted by the University of Virginia School of Continuing and Professional Studies, in the United States learning about a range of topics, ranging from economic development to public administration. The group was made up of teachers, lawyers, judges, business owners, public officials and several other professions. They are in the United States until May and plan to travel to other cities to receive similar presentations regarding the functions and strategies of local government.

The OED presented an overview of their duties to the delegation and gave the group an idea of the department's work. The ultimate goal was to give the group guidance in identifying economic issues and showing them how these issues have been addressed in Charlottesville. The OED specifically addressed the topics of business assistance and workforce development and how staff works to achieve success in these areas. Programs such as the Advancing Charlottesville Entrepreneurs (ACE) program and the Go Driver program were key points in exemplifying strategies to foster economic growth from both a business and employment side. In doing so, they were able to give these representatives strategies to take back to the Guizhou province.

CHARLOTTESVILLE RESIDENTS GRADUATE FROM GO DRIVER PROGRAM
On November 10, 2014, twelve Charlottesville residents graduated from the GO Driver Program. GO Driver is a pre-employment training program that prepares City residents for a career as a Relief Transit Bus Operator with Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT). Graduates obtained training in the areas of customer service, career readiness, workplace essential skills, and commercial driver's license (CDL) preparation.

To date, eight of the twelve graduates have obtained employment with CAT, earning $15.18 per hour, and are now undergoing paid, on-the-job training. It is anticipated that the remaining four graduates will be employed by early January 2015.

The GO Driver Program was a partnership between the City's Office of Economic Development and Charlottesville Area Transit. The program was established for two primary reasons: 1.) to help City residents attain self-sufficiency by creating workforce development training programs that will prepare them for employment within targeted industries paying a living wage, and 2.) to assist CAT in finding a qualified workforce to fill vacant bus driver positions.

Due to the success of the GO Driver Program, a second cohort is being planned for early spring 2015. Additionally, two new training programs based on GO Driver are also being developed and planned for 2015. GO Driver and these future programs are all initiatives of the City's Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development (SAT), which were recommended in the SAT's 2013 report to City Council, Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency in Charlottesville.

OED LAUNCHES NEW DATA TOOL
The Office of Economic Development has launched a new platform to display and distribute Charlottesville business data and demographic information. Going live on December 11th, the new website allows customized reports to be created and downloaded.

The OED maintains an extensive amount of relevant business and community-based information. This new platform allows this data and commonly sought after information to be collected and distributed, utilizing user-friendly technology.  "The Office of Economic Development is always looking for ways to improve its service delivery," said Chris Engel, Director of Economic Development. "This new tool enhances access for prospective and existing businesses seeking information about the City."

The new platform was created through collaboration between the Office of Economic Development, led by Business Development Manager Jason Ness, and the City's Information Technology Department. IT staff Kangyoon Bae, Nathan Newell, and Steve Hawkes worked with OED staff to research and develop this new platform.

CLICK HERE to visit the Data Report webpage.

DOWNTOWN JOB CENTER RIBBON CUTTING AND OPEN HOUSE
On Wednesday, September 10th, a ribbon cutting and open house were held to celebrate the opening of the City's new Downtown Job Center, located at 201 E. Market Street in the Lower Level of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. The establishment of the Downtown Job Center was the result of a recommendation made by the City's Strategic Action Team on Workforce Development in its report, Growing Opportunity: A Path to Self-Sufficiency, which was presented to City Council a little over a year ago.

As part of the Growing Opportunity study, the Strategic Action Team (SAT), made up of twelve City staff from five departments, closely analyzed the need for employment services downtown to ensure that all City residents have access to resources as they navigate their path to self-sufficiency. Based on the SAT's findings, a recommendation was made to Council to establish a downtown satellite to the Virginia Workforce Center - Charlottesville, thus strengthening the City's partnership with Piedmont Workforce Network and the Workforce Center's collocated service providers.

The Downtown Job Center, which is staffed by the Office of Economic Development (OED), works closely with job seekers to help them prepare for the workforce by offering customized services such as assistance with job searches and employment applications, resume writing, and mock interviewing. The Downtown Job Center also works with local employers to help them find qualified job candidates by offering targeted recruitment opportunities and hiring events and developing workforce training programs to meet high demand industry needs.

The OED is excited about this new endeavor and collaboration with so many community partners. Please feel free to stop by the Downtown Job Center to see the space, meet the staff, and find out more about the services being offered!

CHARLOTTESVILLE'S RELAY FOODS RECEIVES $100,000 GRANT FROM AFID AND CEDA
On June 30th, Governor McAuliffe visited Charlottesville's own Relay Foods to announce its selection as a recipient of a $50,000 grant given through the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID). The Commonwealth of Virginia is partnering with the City of Charlottesville and Relay Foods on this project. Along with the $50,000 given by the Commonwealth, the grant will be matched by the Charlottesville Economic Development Authority (CEDA) for a combined total of $100,000.
 
The company, a leading online grocery store and farmers market, will invest more than $735,000 into the business and create 25 new jobs in the City. In an effort to deliver high quality foods and groceries, Relay Foods connects local farmers and artisans with customers in surrounding areas via its unique website (www.RelayFoods.com). Founded in Charlottesville in 2008, Relay Foods has since expanded north to Annapolis, Maryland and as far south as Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Receiving this grant will make continued expansion possible and will help to promote local farmers and businesses within the communities affected.
 
According to Governor McAuliffe, "We continue to realize the benefits of fully integrating agriculture and forestry into the state's strategic economic development platform. Relay Foods' announcement today not only creates quality new job opportunities for residents of Charlottesville, it strengthens the ties that this innovative and fast-growing company has to the Commonwealth. Supporting entrepreneurs with unique and exciting business models is another way for Virginia to grow and diversify our economy, especially with the variety of agricultural producers across the Commonwealth."
 
Speaking on behalf of Relay Foods, Zach Buckner, co-founder and CEO of Relay Foods, expressed thanks and reminded the audience of Relay Foods' mission, "At Relay Foods, our goal is to strengthen the local food economy in every community we serve, and we have been able to grow and thrive in Virginia based on our strong partnerships with producers across the state. We look forward to using this AFID grant to continue exploring innovative ways to connect our customers with the fresh and local foods produced by Virginia growers and artisans."