Guilford County government is working on behalf of local community workforce development organizations to help them land a federal grant of up to $20 million for workforce enhancement in Guilford County.  

Guilford County Commissioner James Upchurch brought the item to the Guilford County Board of Commissioners, which voted the effort into life at the board’s first meeting in February. 

The move by the Board of Commissioners authorizes county staff to prepare a letter of support on behalf of the board for money from a federal “Economic Development Opportunity – Good Jobs Challenge” grant.

Upchurch said the grant could be up to $20 million if Guilford County is chosen as one of the recipients.

A few years ago, that would be an eyepopping amount of grant money for such a purpose. However, ever since the COVID-29 pandemic began, federal money has been flowing very freely into Guilford County and other state and local governments across the country.

Guilford Works would be the lead agency for the grant money. It’s one of 23 Workforce Development Boards in North Carolina. That public-private organization works closely with area businesses, schools and local governments to help businesses find the workers they need – and help workers find the jobs that they need. 

This proposal is in line with the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro’s “Guilford Jobs 2030” initiative that began in 2020. Over 60 area educational institutions, governments and community organizations are working together to train the local workforce for available and future jobs, as well as to grease the wheels of the hiring process.

The grants are part of the federal Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) “American Rescue Plan – Good Jobs” initiative that aims to get Americans back to work “by building and strengthening systems and partnerships that bring together employers who have hiring needs with other key entities to train workers with in-demand skills that lead to good-paying jobs.”

This money is meant to create programs designed to train unemployed or underemployed workers and connect them to “existing and emerging job opportunities.”  The goal is to get people into not just any jobs – but into “quality” jobs that offer solid pay and good benefits as well as opportunities for advancement.

The EDA is funding proposals that do things such as establish and develop regional workforce training systems made of “multiple sector partnerships,” and promoting educational curriculums and materials that offer the technical expertise needed to train workers.

The Guilford County area just landed a large Toyota battery plant and a $500 million supersonic jet factory, so the county is certainly going to need a well-trained and growing workforce in the coming decade.