This article was originally published in the Newnan Times-Herald.

By Kandice Bell

The Three Rivers Workforce Development Board (TRWDB) or WorkSource Three Rivers and the Three Rivers Regional Commission (TRRC) are making strides to connect skilled workers with employers in its 10-county region.

The Three Rivers Regional Commission serves Coweta, Butts, Lamar, Troup, Carroll, Meriwether, Upson, Pike, Heard and Spalding counties and offers planning services to municipal and county governments in the region. The commission also oversees transportation programs such as Coweta’s transit system, workforce development and the Area Agency on Aging.

Business, community and education leaders have partnered to serve employers by expanding workforce and learning opportunities in this growing sector of the regional economy.

Robert Hiett of the Three Rivers Regional Commission said the goal of the project is threefold.

“First, we will seek to understand our region’s manufacturing sector and our ability to supply it with a workforce both now and in the future,” Hiett said. “Next, we will launch an interactive website to showcase the many ways to live, learn, and earn in the 10-county, Three Rivers region of West Georgia. Lastly, we will create a Manufacturing Sector Partnership to ensure continued engagement and collaboration among our manufacturing industry and educators. The process will take two years.”

Hiett said the program is just now completing the data-gathering phase, which is pertinent to the the commission’s 10-county region, which will be updated biannually. He said the data will help the region understand what jobs and training are available.

Hiett said the HDCI project will focus on the manufacturing sector, and later phases will involve the healthcare and logistics industries.  The process will take two years.

“Once we get these big three out of the way, we will begin to look at other sectors,” he said.

Coweta County’s unemployment rate has dropped, and more people are working in Coweta as the manufacturing sector has added about 935 jobs since last year, according to data presented by University of West Georgia’s Dr. William (Joey) Smith, chairman of the university’s economics department.

Job growth is also expected in the healthcare sector.

Hiett said the goal of the first phase of the project is project is to build partnerships and resources to increase the pool of skilled workers to support the manufacturing employers within the Three Rivers Region.

Page Estes with the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce said the partners are working together to use technology to connect skilled workers with potential employers.

“Using technology best way to reach potential employees,” Estes said.

Estes said the chamber partnered with Avalanche Consulting, a national consultancy specializing in strategic planning, workforce analyses and customized research for economic and workforce development organizations to analyze and gather data, as well as help with the development of technological tools.

Estes said town hall meetings were held to get input.

“Every community is different,” she said. “The talent portal will help those searching for a new career or those interested in changing careers. We hope to have the portal running by the end of the first quarter of the beginning of the second quarter.”

The talent portal will be an interactive online portal containing:

• Live+Learn+Earn information to recruit and retain talent
• Extensive workforce and industry data from region
• Internship and apprenticeship portal and job board
• Career planning tools

Estes encourages anyone interested in participating in the employer or employee process to contact their local development authority or chamber of commerce.  The Coweta County Development Authority can be reached at 770-304-1777 and the Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce can be reached at 770-253-2270.

Estes can be reached at 706-884-8671 and Three Rivers can be reached at 678- 692-0510 for more information.

More information can also be found at the project website .