Technological advances and global competition require a knowledgeable, skilled, and adaptable workforce. At the same time, many communities face natural and manmade disasters, industry closings, and other economic woes. Extension works in a variety of ways to help citizens and communities recover from losses and prepare for new opportunities.
Opportunity Help improve the economy of the Alabama Gulf region, which was severely affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Impact Through the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI), Extension is working with the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama to develop a strategic economic development plan for the eight Alabama counties most directly affected by the oil spill—Baldwin, Mobile, Washington, Etowah, Clarke, Monroe, Conecuh, and Choctaw. The primary purpose of the project, funded by the Economic Development Administration, is to create a regional long-term plan to achieve economic diversification and sustainability. It has also demonstrated the value of working together beyond geographic, political, and organizational boundaries.
Impact Extension partnered with Gulf of Mexico Sea Grant college programs and other groups to address regional concerns facing coastal communities and the environment. Four task forces address oil spill issues for damage assessment, family stress and financial management, food safety and consumer confidence, and oil spill communications.
Impact Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium and Extension have supported research leading to an increase of 500 pounds per acre for inland shrimp farms with a total economic impact of $175,000 per year.
Impact Along with the Business Support Center (BSC) in Gulf Shores and in Bayou La Batre, Extension helped shrimpers who wanted to leave the industry after the oil spill to be retrained so they could move into other occupations.
Impact Extension partnered with several organizations to develop an online database that allows people to upload or query oil spill research and monitoring activities. The database, which has been accessed by more than 5,700 unique visitors, includes 200 activities.
Opportunity Work to provide funds to help community leaders finance ideas for projects that will enhance local community, economic, and workforce development.
Impact ECDI administers the Extension-funded Rural Alabama Initiative (RAI) minigrant program to support local community and economic development projects throughout Alabama. Since its inception in 2006, RAI has funded 136 projects ($1.25 million). More than 60 percent of these projects focused on workforce development or youth leadership and entrepreneurship.
Opportunity Equip individuals with tools and training needed to enter the workforce.
Impact Career Countdown is an urban Extension readiness program designed to help participants determine where their interests best fit into the workplace. During 2011, approximately 594 young adults were served. Programs were conducted in Madison, Morgan, Limestone, Jefferson, Montgomery, Macon, Houston, and Mobile Counties. Of the program participants who responded to the post survey, 28 percent created an education plan, 31 percent created a career plan, 22 percent reported improvement in school, and 21 percent reported improvement in academic performance.
Impact Urban Extension’s Career Exploration and Education Planning workshop attendees created educational and career plans and improved their schoolwork and academic performance. The Virtual Business Development program sought to increase minority business participation and signed up 112 businesses and provided information on business development to 400 individuals through MinorityMALL.com.
Opportunity Provide a strong community leadership development program to enhance the leadership, connections, and engagement needed for a successful local workforce.
Impact ECDI manages the Alabama Community Leadership Network (ACLN), which serves as a link among all community leadership programs throughout Alabama (55 adult programs and 25 youth programs). More than 1,500 local leaders are trained through this leadership network each year.
Opportunity Educate and train residents and community leaders in every Alabama county about the social and economic benefits and applications of broadband technology.
Impact Through ECDI, Extension is conducting a $1.2 million project, Connecting Alabama: Boosting Broadband to Bridge the Digital Divide, to address these challenges. The project is funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
- Computer skills and broadband training to as many as 11,500 residents over the life of the project
- Approximately 115,000 training hours focusing on online connectivity, career building, entrepreneurship and business development, community resources, and education
- Partners: BEACON Consortium of six state community colleges, including historically black colleges
Opportunity Facilitate continuous training and lifelong learning to help workers survive as technological advances and global competition increase the pace of change for today’s businesses.
Impact ECDI, the state’s leading organization for economic development education and training, conducts the Intensive Economic Development Training Course, which has trained more than 1,000 state and local economic developers during its 27-year Extension history. Most of the state’s leaders in workforce development are graduates.
Opportunity Promote the growth and expansion of Alabama’s tourism and travel industry, which creates thousands of jobs in the state. This sector represents about 5.5 percent of the state’s gross domestic product and 8.6 percent of nonagricultural employment.
Impact ECDI conducts more than 100 consultation sessions each year in support of tourism-related entrepreneurs, primarily for rural and agritourism initiatives. ECDI also promotes education and training in rural tourism through the Intensive Economic Development Training Course and sponsorship of an annual Alabama-Mississippi tourism conference.
Also available is a print-friendly version of the ACES Stakeholder Report 2011: Workforce Development