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The United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley is advancing economic development alongside workforce development. We’re building pathways out of poverty by creating jobs and ensuring a career-ready population.

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Columbus ranks in the bottom 7 percent of economically mobile communities, meaning that children born poor face significant odds and barriers to moving out of poverty. This impacts quality of life, including crime, community development, public services, blight and perception of our region. Most importantly, this affects the ability for individuals and families to build their futures.

Leaders across the region are changing this by collaborating to attract new jobs while simultaneously enhancing educational systems to equip our current and future workforce with job training and in-demand skills.

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Expansion of training opportunities

We are creating and expanding training opportunities in skilled trades, catering to both youth entering the workforce and adults seeking employment or upskilling.

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Improved accessibility for everyone

We are bringing training resources to communities in need and eliminating cost-related barriers to program entry, increasing accessibility for all individuals.

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Industry-focused job attraction

CHIPS4CHIPS is a cross sector coalition of more than 80 organizations mobilized to attract the semiconductor industry and its supply chain, which is projected to add 100,000 U.S. jobs in the next 6 years.

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Tracking progress to ensure success

A coordinated network of partners spanning the Columbus metro area will track individuals in the training-to-employment pipeline, ensuring effective support or intervention when needed.

The Chattahoochee Valley is among 22 finalists out of 565 applicants nationwide competing for federal grants ranging from $20 million to $50 million in the U.S. Economic Development Administration Recompete Program. In December of 2023, the EDA awarded United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley a $500,000 Strategy Development Grant. In 2024, our regional planning efforts accelerated, and partnerships grew as we aligned our efforts around key workforce development strategies to grow participation in the workforce.  These efforts, combined with existing initiatives, will grow talent, advance equitable opportunities, and ensure that all people in our region have an opportunity to thrive. In late April we submitted our revised regional plan “Prosper Chattahoochee Valley – Expanding Pathways, Empowering Futures” along with 5 component projects (noted with an asterisk below).   

Truth Spring Trade School Expansion (TSTS-Expand) will renovate an old fire station into a modern trade school in Columbus’ North Highland neighborhood, increasing capacity and enhancing opportunities for residents in the PAEG to develop skills and remove barriers to workforce participation.

In partnership with StartUp Columbus and in collaboration with Columbus State University, we’re establishing an advanced manufacturing-focused business incubator with state-of-the-art equipment and supplies to support innovation and entrepreneurship. The location will include Micromize, the most recent semiconductor company to move to our region. Through this project, we anticipate the creation of 150 new jobs and $10 million in private investment in five years.

Technical Readiness GA, led by Columbus Technical College (CTC) will provide accessible opportunities for skills training and up-skilling.  This project will enable the purchase of equipment needed to establish advanced manufacturing/mechatronics skills mobile training lab to provide training in rural areas, on-site training for new industries, and training for incarcerated individuals. 

Tech Readiness AL, led by Chattahoochee Valley Community College (CVCC), introduces the Advanced Manufacturing Immersion Program, bridging the education-to-employment gap for high school students and unemployed adults in advanced manufacturing. This program aims offers comprehensive training in mechatronics, robotics, and electrical technology, including new industry-focused degrees and certifications, ensuring participants are prepared for high-paying jobs, increasing prime age employment, and per capita wages.  

Connect Chattahoochee will address critical barriers to workforce participation by providing tailored wrap-around services, connecting non-profits and coalition partners, and creating a common platform for establishing a system of coordinated care across the workforce pipeline.

The Chattahoochee Hub for Innovation and Production of Semiconductors (CHIPS4Chips) is a cross-sector coalition of organizations working to support the growth of the semiconductor industry across the Chattahoochee Valley.

Middle school students attended a newly-created 3-day CHIPS Camp cohosted by Georgia Tech, Columbus State, and Columbus Tech. Started in 2023, and in 2024 will begin a second round of camps, expanded to include high school students, will be held this summer.

Community Schools United brings together schools, students, families, and the community to thrive as a unit to achieve student success. The objective is to narrow achievement gaps and reduce barriers to employment and attainment of self-sufficiency.

Andy Hilmes, Executive Vice President of Economic Development

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