On May 24th, 2018, Governor Haslem signed off on the recommendation of the State Workforce Board to realign the existing Local Workforce Development Areas (LWDA). This game changing movement marks the first time the local areas have been realigned since the late 1990s.
The State Board began reviewing the structure of the areas in February when Grundy County requested to move to LWDA 5 to align with the economically thriving Chattanooga region. This prompted the Board to wonder if it would make more sense for the Workforce areas to align with the Job Base Camps of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
Embracing the regional concept, Commissioner Phillips invited all the county mayors and executives in the state to regional meetings to outline the changes in April. After the mayors received the proposed changes with support, the State Workforce Board met on May 11th and approved the realignment, sending it to the Governor for final designation.
The current 13 LWDAs will be reconfigured into 9 Job Base Camps. What does this mean for LWDA 8? It means that it will be merged with LWDA 9 to form a mega region called the North Middle TN Jobs Base Camp. The region will be the largest in the State with a population of over 1.929,000! The new area is a regional economic engine with unprecedented job growth. Seven of the lowest unemployment rates in the State are in this new region. Other changes include the merger of LWDA’s 6 and 10, as well as, alignment of area’s 2, 3, and 4.
The merger will require many changes to be made during the next six months. Immediately, the Mayors of the North Middle Camp will have to meet and elect a new Chief Local Elected Official (CLEO). Once named, the CLEO will have to appoint a fiscal agent to manage the WIOA funding. The two Workforce Boards will have to merge through reappointment by the County Mayors and a Board Staff must be hired for the new region. Again, a lot has to be done in a short amount of time.
How does this effect Workforce Essentials? State policy dictates that One-Stop-Operator and Career Service Provider Contracts must be rebid by this fall. Based upon what we know now, after the administrative changes have been finalized, it looks like we will be in the proposal writing business again.
What can you do help during the transition? It’s easy… continuing serving the job seekers and employers that need our help! The performance of Workforce Essentials staff is the common denominator in the two Workforce regions. If we are to continue to provide services, we need to put our heads down and continue to charge forward in providing excellent customer service!
The only constant is change… Let’s embrace it and move forward focusing on the positive momentum and opportunity to make the North Middle TN Job Base Camp the best!