Getting Work Ready

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by Richard K. Blackwell

The Oconee Economic Alliance has taken great strides to keep Oconee County on track for its five-year strategic economic development plan.

Oconee County has specifically improved the link between education and career readiness, as well economic growth as a whole, and these efforts have not gone unnoticed. Because of these types of efforts, Oconee County was recently recognized as a certified South Carolina Work Ready Community.

ACT Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC) empowers counties and states with actionable data and specific workforce goals that drive economic growth. In South Carolina, counties are required to meet specified workforce and educational goals, including National Career Readiness Certificates, improved graduation rate over three years, soft skill assessments and engaged business support. In simpler terms, the county must demonstrate a strong workforce pipeline and a commitment to economic growth.

The Work Ready Community certification program aims to provide a community-based framework that links workforce development to education and aligns the economic development needs of communities, regions and states. It’s easy to see that the vision of the Oconee Economic Alliance aligns well with the purpose of the Work Ready Community initiative. Earning the certification is also proof that many partners in Oconee County are working together to enhance the economic prosperity in our area.

A strong workforce is a tremendous economic development advantage for any community. The Work Ready Certification is an even greater advantage, as it helps Oconee County market ourselves as a more attractive option for new and existing businesses. The certification demonstrates that Oconee County is equipped with a skilled workforce and open for business.

By meeting the criteria for a Work Ready Community, we are not only helping Oconee County. We are also doing our part to strengthen South Carolina’s economy as a whole. According to Gov. Nikki Haley, work ready certification for South Carolina counties puts the state one step closer to becoming the nation’s first certified work ready state. She also referred to these types of communities as “the state’s greatest asset.” It’s really a win-win situation; a stronger state-wide economy will only bring more opportunity to Oconee County.

Earning statewide recognition is undoubtedly a great accomplishment for Oconee County. It is also an indicator that our efforts must continue in order to maintain our momentum in economic development. The Oconee Economic Alliance will continue to strive to improve the quality of life for the citizens by building a robust and healthy economy that is both diversified and sustainable.

Supporting the Oconee Economic Alliance can only strengthen our efforts to continue at the pace we are going. Our current supporters exemplify how important working together for the common good of Oconee County’s future is for the community, and for that we are very grateful.

Richard K. Blackwell is the executive director of Oconee Economic Alliance, which is a public-private nonprofit effort to accelerate job creation and capital investment, increase per capita income, diversify the local tax base and generate awareness of Oconee County as a business location. To learn more visit

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