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Jobs program approved for three towns, Salisbury’s West End

By Josh Bergeron

josh.bergeron@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — County Commissioners on Monday gave unanimous approval to a jobs training program that would bring classes to four communities in Rowan.

Drafted by Commissioners Vice Chairman Jim Greene, the program aims to bring training for manufacturing jobs and various other classes to Cleveland, China Grove, Rockwell and Salisbury’s West End community. The N.C. Manufacturing Institute, which has already brought classes to East Spencer, would be the centerpiece of the program. Greene says additional classes could focus on digital literacy, GED courses or “how to overcome a criminal past.”

During their Monday meeting, commissioners allocated $100,000 in money from a new sales tax on services such as car repairs to the program. State law requires the sales tax on services be used for economic development or education purposes.

Now, Greene says he will speak with individual towns and cities to determine specific details of the program at each location. At each site, he hopes to attract 25 participants. Each site may offer different individual skills classes, he said.

“In trying to fulfill needs and get people prepared to work, I thought that there would be a need to do this in all parts of the county — north, south, east and west,” he said. “What’s important is that we’re going to advertise in each of these communities and say that this is a way for you to improve your job skills and that typical graduates from this program will have a job offered to them at the end.”

Before approving Greene’s plan, commissioners took turns praising the idea.

“I’ve watched Jim work on this for some time now, and he’s been really passionate about it,” said commissioners Chairman Greg Edds. “You’re to be commended for this. This is forward thinking, and it’s a great idea.”

For his part, Commissioner Craig Pierce framed Greene’s idea in the context of its cost.

“I’d like us to first think about what it would cost to incarcerate somebody for a year,” Pierce said. “If we can take these potential criminals off the streets and teach them how to work and give them a career path, then I think not only will it make our community safer, but we’ll actually save money.”

Commissioner Mike Caskey asked whether Greene intends to continue the jobs training program into multiple years.

The N.C. Manufacturing Institute is self-sustaining. If other classes are added, those parts of the jobs training program may not be.

When employers hire a person trained by the N.C. Manufacturing Institute, the company pays $1,000 for future participants if the person stays with the company for a specified period of time.

When commissioners begin discussing the fiscal year 2018 budget, Caskey recommended that the county considering allocating money to continue the entire program.

On Monday, Pierce offered a motion to approve Greene’s program. Commissioner Judy Klusman offered a second. It passed by a 5-0 count.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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