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New grant will fund workforce innovation programming

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The Whitley County Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and "Whitley Works" program in partnership with the Whitley County Manufacturing Council, recently received a $5,000 grant award from the Education Workforce Innovation Network (EWIN).
The grant will be used toward a new collaborative program that aligns education and the local workforce, to create pathways for students for employment and/or postsecondary training. The partnering organizations, along with local stakeholders, will develop a program for students interested in acquiring manufacturing skills, certifications, and college credits from Freedom Academy, Ivy Tech Community College-Northeast and Purdue University.
"Whitley County has begun the collaborative process of building career pathways customized to the needs in their areas," said EWIN Director Alisa Deck. "This mini grant will help them explore additional possibilities with promising practice site visits along with further technical assistance and support from EWIN."
The Whitley Works program was put into place in 2017 by WCCS as a partnership opportunity for all three school systems, WCCS, Smith-Green Community Schools and Whitko Community Schools, to better connect students with local employers to provide internships, training opportunities and employment opportunities.
"The mini-grant recently awarded by EWIN will provide Whitley County Schools the opportunity to continue and expand our work with the Whitley County EDC and the Manufacturing Council," said Whitley Works Program Director Lori Heuer. "Our goal is to study other successful manufacturing pathway models to guide the creation of our own local pathway to connect interested students with the training and experiences necessary to prepare for a career in manufacturing."
The Whitley County Manufacturing Council, which is a group of local manufacturing companies working together to promote and grow manufacturing, inform the community about opportunities, and encourage individuals to pursue careers in manufacturing, is also working in collaboration with the Whitley County EDC and the Whitley Works program.
"The EWIN grant will help us get moving in meeting local manufacturing and trade needs for skilled workers, allowing educators to expose our children to the job opportunities of our local workforce, and keep Whitley County's youth employed here at home," said Scott Werstler, chairman of the Whitley County Manufacturing Council and president of Red Star Contract Manufacturing.
"This grant provided through EWIN will help us begin to look at the skills necessary for individuals from high school to adults entering the manufacturing industry in Whitley County," said EDC Workforce and Community Development Director Riley Hollenbaugh. "This grant will be a collaborative effort in the community between educators, manufacturing companies and community organizations to work on workforce development challenges that affect Whitley County's manufacturing companies."

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