BLUEFIELD, WV (WOAY) – The City of Bluefield is making great strides toward workforce development.
Bluefield’s economic development director and head of the Bluefield Economic Development Authority, Jim Spencer is the backbone behind the initiative. He is ready to see even more growth in the workforce arena.
Now, the city is part of a state coalition called Resilient West Virginia, which is competing for a share of $1 billion in federal funding.
“We are going to take every opportunity available to go after outside funding to create jobs in our area,” Spencer says. “I said many times that our number one export in Southern West Virginia is not coal, gas, or timber, it’s been some of our young, educated adults.”
Resilient WV, part of the federal Build Back Better Plan, is just one of the outside sources the city is pushing for to help create and diversify the job industry.
With the expansion of broadband throughout the state, the city is specifically looking for funding to create a fiber optic training program.
Apart from the funding, however, fiber optic technicians are needed to make it happen. There is currently a shortage of them in the country.
Spencer is pushing to get students straight out of career and technical schools, get them trained and get them to work.
“Workforce is a key part of economic development,” says Spencer. “You can attract any company, but if they can’t find qualified employees, you’re not going to be successful. So, with the announcement that was made two weeks ago by Governor Justice with Omnis coming to Bluefield, we’re already looking ahead to make sure they are successful that they have qualified employees.”
Omnis Building Technologies, the California-based construction company that’s on its way into Bluefield is expected to create 150 to 300 jobs in the area. Three years prior, the coming of the major financial software company, Intuit also helped to create hundreds of jobs.
Spencer is now looking ahead and says that even more opportunities will become available.
Spencer encourages educators, parents, and students to also start looking ahead to see what jobs will be in demand in the next couple of years. Due to the further developments in technology and other industries, the opportunities continue to change.