To help strengthen and expand workforce development
programs in Tennessee’s rural counties, the Tennessee Workforce
Development Board recently approved a $3 million investment to support
Governor Bill Lee’s rural initiatives.
The Rural Initiative Funding Opportunity Announcement (RIFOA) will
make monies available to local workforce development boards over the
next three years.
“Our hope is this investment will help to ensure workers in our rural
counties have the opportunity and resources to enhance their economic
circumstances through education and skill development,” said Deniece
Thomas, Deputy Commissioner with the Tennessee Department of Labor and
Workforce Development (TDLWD).
Tennessee’s distressed, at-risk, and rural counties face workforce
challenges that do not exist in the state’s urban and metropolitan
Often, local leaders in rural counties are forced to navigate
workforce obstacles such as geography, demography and high demand for
employees, but a low supply of a qualified workforce.
The goal of the RIFOA is to increase workforce funding in local
workforce development areas that contain distressed and at-risk
counties. New programs will create greater opportunity for residents
in these counties to take part in skills training in high-demand
growth sectors. These programs will also include work-based models
such as on-the-job training.
“Members of the State Workforce Development Board come from every
corner of Tennessee,” said board chairman Tim Berry. “They know
firsthand the workforce development needs in the rural areas many of
them call home. This additional funding will have a high impact on the
communities that receive it.”
Expanded workforce development opportunities will originate from
American Job Centers in selected counties to allow for easier access
to programs and services.
Money for the RIFOA will come from the Governor’s reserve of Workforce
Innovation and Opportunity (WIOA) funds. TDLWD will provide additional
program guidance to the local workforce development boards deemed
eligible to receive this funding