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Bobbie McKnight, center, of the Bolivar Area Chamber of Commerce receives a $5,000 check from Sharon Walker, chair of the Ozark Region Workforce Development Board, and Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon.
Photo provided by by Missouri Job Center
Bobbie McKnight, center, of the Bolivar Area Chamber of Commerce receives a $5,000 check from Sharon Walker, chair of the Ozark Region Workforce Development Board, and Greene County Presiding Commissioner Bob Dixon.

Workforce development grants benefit 6 counties

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Workforce development projects for six area counties received a boost April 1 through the receipt of nearly $30,000 in grants.

The six microgrants, individually capped at $5,000, were presented to organizations representing the rural counties of the Missouri Job Center’s Ozark Region: Christian, Dallas, Polk, Stone, Taney and Webster.

Katherine Trombetta, spokeswoman with the job center, said the grants are a first-time offering, made available through federal funding via the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

“We’re not just supporting Springfield and Greene County,” she said. “We’re supporting workforce development throughout the region.”

The grant presentation yesterday was held at the Missouri Job Center, with the following announced as recipients:
• Dallas County Economic Development Group, $5,000 for leadership development training efforts within the county via Leadership Buffalo;
• Gro Marshfield, $5,000 for leadership development training efforts within the county by way of the 12-week Gro Marshfield leadership program;
• Bolivar Area Chamber of Commerce, $5,000 to address the skills gap with local students through the BoMo Works internship and apprenticeship program, upgrading computer software and supporting programs developed by Leadership Bolivar;
• Show Me Christian County, $4,075 to provide economic development training for board members and elected county officials;
• Table Rock Lake Chamber of Commerce, $5,000 for workforce development efforts through the Stone County Economic Development and Workforce Development Summit; and
• Taney County Partnership, $4,118 for the Money Smart for Small Business training program by Missouri State University’s Small Business and Technology Development Center in partnership with the Efactory.

The grants were created to encourage innovation in supporting workforce needs and leaders in rural communities, Trombetta said. She said 10 applications were received. Requests for proposal were issued in late January with a submission deadline of late February, she said.

A selection committee of the Ozark Region Workforce Development Board and job center staff determined the final six, Trombetta said, with each county allowed only one recipient.

“We were pleased with the response from the rural counties and we are excited to help them build capacity in their communities to stimulate workforce and economic development,” said Mary Ann Rojas, director of workforce development for the Ozark Region Workforce Development Board, in a news release.

The Ozark Region Workforce Development Board has 26 members representing Greene, Webster, Dallas, Polk, Stone, Taney and Christian counties. It has oversight of a $7 million annual budget, as well as workforce development programs and services delivered through the Missouri Job Center offices in Springfield and Branson.

Trombetta said future microgrants would depend on additional money coming available through the federal workforce act.

“I know the local workforce board would love to continue this, but we’ll just have to see if we have the funds available,” she said.

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