Joint workforce development effort earns almost $1 million in new grants

Published 3:42 pm Wednesday, June 7, 2023

NATCHEZ — The fledgling joint workforce development effort here has received two separate grant awards worth between $910,000 and $1 million over the next three years, Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said today.

The grants are from the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District and Delta Regional Authority to Natchez Workforce Development, which is a joint project of the City of Natchez, the Adams County Board of Supervisors, and Natchez-Adams School District.

“It is truly remarkable to see what can happen when we work together,” Gibson said. “With these two significant grants, possibly equating to almost $1 million over the next three years, our vision for a strong workforce development program is now assured of success.

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“We are so grateful for the city’s partnership with the Adams County Board of Supervisors and the Natchez-Adams County School District, not to mention Co-Lin, Alcorn, Natchez Inc., Natchez-Adams Chamber of Commerce, and our many corporate sponsors.

The latest grant, which Gibson learned was successful late Tuesday in Washington, D.C., is worth $445,000 from the Delta Regional Authority.

“We also applaud Tuwanna Williams, our director of workforce development, leaders at the Central Mississippi and Southwest Mississippi Planning and Development district, and last, but certainly not least, Dr. Corey Wiggins, federal co-chair of the Delta Regional Authority, who encouraged us to put the DRA application together in March during a Washington visit. His support, along with that of our Congressman Bennie Thompson and U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker and Cindy Hyde-Smith, are evidence that our Natchez Renewal is steaming forward with support at the highest levels.”

Warren Gaines, president of the Adams County Board of Supervisors, said he is pleased to see the efforts of the county, city, and school board while working together proving successful.

“The vision for workforce development efforts is coming to fruition in such a short period of time. Adams County’s proposal competed with 252 counties and parishes across multiple states. We offer a special thank you to the workforce director for her leadership and her team for their hard work to improve our workforce efforts. These funds will support our collective goal to establish a stable, ready and skilled pipeline of workers for our area,” Gaines said.

Amos James, president of the Natchez-Adams School District Board of Trustees, said the school district is excited to learn about the two substantial grant awards.

“The partnership between NASD, the City of Natchez, and Adams County is working hard together to strengthen our workforce and improve career success for all citizens of Adams County. I would like to thank Tuwanna Williams for her diligent work in moving this program forward as well as the Delta Regional Authority and Central Mississippi Planning and Development District for making these awards available,” James said. “We have great community partners in Co-Lin, Alcorn, WIN Job Center and local businesses who continue to provide incredible support to our program. Also, a huge thank you to our Congressional delegation. The workforce is truly on the move!”

These new rounds of funding will provide more than 300 further job training and career placement opportunities for new, dislocated, and incumbent workers, including youth aged 17-24. The program is developing a training system to align development initiatives with current and future trends, such as advanced manufacturing, healthcare, logistics and distribution, information technology, and vocational programming.

The Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen, the Adams County Board of Supervisors, along with the Natchez-Adams School District board held a special joint meeting on Dec. 1, 2021, becoming the first city, county, and school board in the state to enter into an interlocal agreement to establish a workforce development department as a unified effort.

“As a unit, the groups continue to seek innovative ways to support the business industry and our residents to press forward as a thriving community,” Gibson said.