Ohio Co. Work Ready Committee denied funding for project

In Local, News by OC Monitor Staff

FRANKFORT, Ky. — After advancing to the second round of funding from the Work Ready Skills Initiative Advisory Committee, the Ohio County Work Ready Committee project lost out on a share of $33.1 million.

The Work Ready Skills Initiative Advisory Committee selected recipients for its second round of funding this week. The $33.1 million in bond money was dispersed to 15 projects aimed at developing a highly trained workforce to meet the needs of employers and to promote sustainable incomes for Kentuckians.

“The response to the Work Ready Skills Initiative has been truly astounding,” said Gov. Matt Bevin. “This important initiative is a key component in our pursuit to make Kentucky the epicenter for engineering and manufacturing excellence in America. This historic investment in training our workforce will truly be transformative for the Commonwealth.”

The 10-member committee met Wednesday in Frankfort, to review the results of applicant interviews conducted last week. Proposals came from several state workforce areas and addressed a wide array of key industry sectors including advanced manufacturing, healthcare, technology, transportation and construction trades. Earlier this year the committee awarded more than $65.5 million to 25 projects. The $65.5 million in first-round awards leveraged $84.5 million in matching funds, including $64.1 million in cash and $20.4 million in-kind.

One of the projects under consideration was submitted by the Ohio County Work Ready Committee. The county’s work ready committee submitted an application asking for $900,000. If the county’s application had been approved, the $900,000 would have been spent on upgrading the work skill training equipment for the county, as well as equipment for the Ohio County Vocational School and the Ohio County High School. Ohio County was one of only three projects in western Kentucky to make the second round of funding.

Second round recipients include:

Gateway Community & Technical College, $95,000
Logan County Schools, $932,000
Russell County Board of Education, $5,700,000
Garrard County Schools, $1,346,000
Freestore Foodbank, $267,000
Estill County Board of Education, $5,700,000
Home Builders Association of Northern Kentucky, $2,690,000
Kenton County Schools, $400,000
Breckinridge County Area Technology Center, $3,325,000
Taylor County School District, $2,375,000
Adair County Board of Education, $238,000
Green River/Hart County and Caverna Schools, $3,325,000
Christian County Public Schools, $4,275,000
Washington County Schools, $763,000
Johnson County Schools, $1,710,000

In the second round, the $33.1 million in awards leverage $27,220,502 in matching funds, including $17,365,041 in cash and $10,716,392 in-kind.

Chase Vincent, the director of the Ohio County Economic Development Alliance and member of the Ohio County Work Ready Committee, said the county work ready committee was disappointed by the decision of the Work Ready Skills Initiative Advisory Committee.

“We were deeply disappointed to learn that our Work Ready Skills Initiative application was not selected for funding. Equipment upgrades at our area technology center and high school are vital to keeping Ohio County attractive to business and industry, supplying our current employers with the skilled workers they need, as well as increasing the learning and earning potential of our citizens,” Vincent said. “Being just shy of the cutoff for Round 1 of the program, revamping the application for Round 2, making it to the final interviews, and then walking away empty handed—it feels like a punch in the gut.”

Vincent continued, “We have not yet received feedback from the selection committee on the reasoning for their decision, but will take their review to heart and continue to explore other funding options for these upgrades.”

Forty-one applicants applied for the funding in April, totaling more than $165 million. Projects included requests for construction and equipping new facilities for providing workforce training and education in top five industry sectors; renovation/upgrade of an existing facility; or purchase of new or upgraded equipment, software and furnishings. Applicants were required to be public-private partnerships that include private sector employers and high schools, secondary technical schools or postsecondary institutions.

Vincent hopes the Work Ready Skills Initiative Advisory Committee will fund other projects in the future.

“With the Work Ready Skills Initiative having received over $500 million worth of applications for the $100 million bond issuance, we hope the state strongly considers future rounds of funding for educational training centers and equipment,” Vincent said. “In the meantime, the Ohio County Work Ready Committee will continue bringing together industry, government, and educators, working to ensure that Ohio County citizens are offered the best training available, supplying industry with a well-equipped labor pool.”

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