Monroe Chamber Receives $200,000 Grant

Local News
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JPMorgan Chase & Co. today announced a $200,000 grant to the Monroe Chamber of Commerce to help build a much-needed jobs pipeline and create greater economic opportunity in the region.

The grant will help low-income adults with insufficient career skills prepare for and earn employment in a middle-skill job. In Monroe and Ouachita Parish, about one in three people live at or below the national poverty level. At the same time, local industry leaders are having trouble filling middle-skill jobs, which require less than a 4-year degree but more than a high-school diploma.

“The disconnect between available opportunities and the skill sets of job seekers means too many people are left behind and are unable to adequately provide for themselves and their families,” said Sue Nicholson, president and CEO of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce.

The Monroe Chamber and the NOVA Workforce Institute of Northeast Louisiana recently launched a new strategy focused on building a robust workforce pipeline in the healthcare sector, leveraging existing relationships with the Louisiana Delta Community College, St. Francis Medical Center and a number of community organizations. Funding from JPMorgan Chase will support development of the pipeline, including expanded recruitment and more certification programs for participants.

“When we fully engage employers in training programs – especially in high demand jobs that include on-the-job training – participants get the exact skills that local employers need. And that means they are much more likely to land a good job,” Nicholson said. “We are honored to receive this substantial JPMorgan Chase grant that will help us place more people in good jobs.”

By working together and combining resources, the partners can build a better workforce system that performs equally well for both employers and job seekers.

“Expanding economic opportunity for the people of Monroe is crucial. This collaboration brings together the key players to work together and put more people on a path to success,” said Tania Hilburn, site leader for Chase in Monroe. “Getting more people into workforce training will be our first step, but we also will work to make sure our training programs are providing the precise skills that are urgently needed.”

Because it’s important for low income individuals to earn as they learn, this initiative will educate employers about opportunities for on-the-job training, encouraging employers to establish internships, apprenticeships and pathways for existing employees to further their training.

Additional supportive services will be offered that may include tuition, uniforms, transportation and other services. In addition, the Workforce Investment Board is working with other agencies to ensure that low income job seekers can continue to keep some forms of public assistance while they train.

“Our track record is a good one. We have visited hundreds of employers and have already placed 646 people in jobs with an annual economic impact of $9 million,” Nicholson said. “We have helped our community college and university better align their programs based on skills identified by employers. We are excited about the opportunity to build on this success with the generous support of JPMorgan Chase.”

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