East Spencer one of several communities targeted for an employment opportunity site

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 2021

EAST SPENCER — An “opportunity site” that will provide employment resources to teenagers and young adults is currently being planned for East Spencer.

The North Carolina Department of Commerce last week awarded $87,862 in grant funding to the Centralina Workforce Development Board. The Charlotte-based organization focuses on helping businesses and strengthening the workforce in a seven county region that includes Anson, Cabarrus, Iredell, Lincoln, Stanly, Union and Rowan counties. 

The funding will be used to create six opportunity sites in the region, one of which will be located in East Spencer. The site will be staffed and run by NCWorks — a program managed by the Centralina Workforce Development Board — through its NextGen Services. 

NCWorks has a career center located at 1904 S. Main St. in Salisbury, but the site in East Spencer will allow the organization to reach an underserved population.

“Our ultimate goal there is to reach those individuals in a marginalized community such as East Spencer that do not have access to NCWorks, that lack of transportation or technology or what have you,” said Monica Gramling, program leader of NextGen Services.

The East Spencer site will be geared specifically toward providing employment advice to people between the ages of 16-24.

“We’re trying to get young people, especially those who are out of school who have maybe completed high school or some community college or maybe are just working minimum wage jobs, and get them additional skills and get them exposed to different types of employment opportunities in Rowan County so they can go to work,” said David Hollars, the executive director of the Centralina Workforce Development Board.

There will be a career development specialist at the site and it will be open to the public several days a month. Computers, which can be utilized for job searching, to curate a resumé or to schedule job training, will be available as well.

“We’ll have staff there on certain days and times so people can come in, discuss their future, talk about career options,” Hollars said. “We do a lot of career assessments to figure out where a young person may interested to moving into employment and show them the opportunities available in Rowan County.”

The site will also offer employment services to people older than 24 as time allows.

Representatives from NCWorks will be reaching out to officials from East Spencer to determine where exactly the site will be located and when it could begin operating. Gramling said the East Spencer Town Hall is a potential home for the site, since the building was used previously to host classes for Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s NC Manufacturing Institute. East Spencer Mayor Barbara Mallett said the NC Manufacturing Institute classes were successful, but she is awaiting more information on the opportunity site.

With many local employers looking to fill vacancies, NCWorks will look to open the East Spencer site as soon as possible.

“We’re trying to get anybody back into the labor force we can,” Hollars said. “I get calls every single day from employers begging and saying, ‘I’ve got 50 openings, I’ve got 80 openings, I’ve got 13 openings and I’m only getting two applicants.’ That’s the bigger part of it. We’ve got to get more people back in the labor force, and especially young people.”

Hollars estimated that the site will be opened in two or three months.

Many of the same services that will be provided at the opportunity site in East Spencer are currently offered at the NCWorks Career Center in Salisbury. The career center is open from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Monday through Friday. More information can be found online at ncworks.gov.