The county planning commission has announced a partnership with a workforce development group that both hope will bolster the local labor pool.

The Rutland Regional Planning Commission announced Tuesday it’s formed a partnership with the Rutland Region Workforce Investment Board, according to Ed Bove, executive director of the planning commission.

The Rutland Regional Planning Commission offers planning-related services to towns in Rutland County. According to its website, it assists with “land use, economic development, energy, transportation, emergency management and more.”

The commission has counterparts in other counties.

The Rutland Region Workforce Investment Board, according to its website, was created by the Legislature in 1996 to “be the voice of business in the areas of education and training.” It’s authorized by the Vermont Department of Labor to identify needs in the county’s workforce and to coordinate programs that meet said needs.

According to Bove, the investment board will now work out of the planning commission’s offices, while the commission’s staff will help the investment board with conducting outreach, administering grants and managing its finances.

He said in a Tuesday interview the goal of the partnership is to grow the Rutland Region Workforce Investment Board, not absorb it. “It’s really what everyone’s talking about right now, workforce development,” he said, adding that the planning commission already helps the economy with its work on brownfield sites and writing grant proposals for towns, so this was a logical partnership.

Bove said the investment board is one of the few entities that can connect the business community with the education sector.

The plan is to have the partnership fully integrated by July 1, Bove said.

He wrote in a statement that on March 19, his group’s board of commissioners voted unanimously to approve the partnership with the investment board. The investment board’s governing body had voted to do the same previously.

“We are stronger together,” said Teresa Miele, owner of HR Acquired LLC and a member of the investment board’s governing body, “and will be doing things even better together.”

By partnering, the two groups hope to create more opportunities to improve the county’s workforce.

“The RRPC is excited to partner with the RRWIB,” said Bove in the statement, “and grow our communities through a partnership that helps to find and retain good workers in the Rutland region.”

Workforce development has been a point of discussion recently, with the Vermont Department of Labor reporting the state’s unemployment rate at all-time lows. Labor officials have said that while low unemployment is generally viewed as a good thing, when the rate is this low, it generally means employers can’t find the workers they need to grow and develop.

According to Bove’s statement, the investment board’s programs involve youth and adult workers. Adult Workforce Council and Council on Youth are two of its programs. It also runs the Sophomore Summit, a career fair for 10th-graders in Rutland County. It also designed the Real Careers program, for which the Rutland Economic Development Corp. helped secure funding from the Department of Labor.

The “Real Careers” program will continue to be run by Michelle Heitcamp and Lynne Klamm, according to Bove.

“The RRWIB’s nearly 25 years of working relationships with area schools and businesses, coupled with the RRPC’s strong ties in every town, will help increase the scope and effectiveness of workforce development programming and ensure that more citizens have equal access to opportunities for career growth,” said Lynn Bondurant, interim executive director of the investment board.

keith.whitcomb

@rutlandherald.com

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