CREWE – Southside Electric Cooperative hosted the first meeting Monday of the Workforce Development & K-12 Education Subcommittee of Governor McDonnell’s newly created Rural Jobs Council. The nine-member subcommittee, made up of General Assembly members and industry leaders from across Virginia, heard presentations from several workforce and education experts before discussing initial ideas and priorities for how the group should proceed in developing future policy recommendations.
Council members and staff were welcomed by Jeff Edwards, SEC president & CEO, who thanked the group for traveling to the Cooperative’s headquarters office in Crewe. Edwards noted, "The issues being considered by the Council have a profound effect on much of the region served by Southside. I thank the Governor and his staff for putting a priority on these challenges, and I’m encouraged by the group of leaders assembled here today. I am confident that the results of our work over the next several months will help improve the lives of rural Virginians."
Dr. Nettie Simon-Owens, subcommittee chair and director of workforce services at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston, opened the meeting and welcomed the subcommittee’s first presenter. Kim McKay, Research and Policy Analyst with the Council for Virginia’s Future then gave a presentation on Virginia’s Workforce System Report Card. The report card, a collaborative project of the Governor’s Office and the Council on Virginia’s Future, provides data on key indicators of workforce readiness for the Commonwealth and for its rural regions. Following McKay, a presentation on Virginia Community Colleges and Patrick County Education Foundation’s Rural Horseshoe Initiative was given by Jay Poole, Principal Consultant at Hirschler Fleisher Consulting.
After a public comment period, the subcommittee members discussed which information and data might be needed to develop program strategies and policy recommendations. Next steps and actions items were then considered by the group, which will report back to the full Council over the next several months before final recommendations are made to Governor McDonnell in June. Council members and staff were then presented with a demonstration of advanced metering technology currently being implemented by SEC, before taking a brief tour of SEC’s headquarters facility which included a look at the Operations Center, the information hub which connects SEC’s service territory across 18 counties in central and southern Virginia.
For more information on the Governor’s Rural Job Council, including the Council’s work plan and membership, go to: www.governor.virginia.gov/RuralJobsCouncil.