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Regional Economic Development Leaders Launch Workforce Innovation Program

Mon, 02/27/2006 - 3:01am
Anita LaFond

Economic development leaders from around the country met in Washington to kick off their respective Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) initiatives. In her keynote address to an audience of business, civic, educational and workforce professionals, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao set a 21st century framework for the global economic challenges that lay ahead for the U.S.

“Ninety percent of the jobs in the fastest growing sectors of our economy require post-secondary training or education,” said Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. “The WIRED initiative will focus on the critical role of talent development in attracting economic development and new high-growth, high-skill job opportunities for these regions.”

The goal of the WIRED initiative is to transform regional economies by enlisting the skills of the numerous and varied players in those economies to research and produce long-term strategic plans that prepare workers for high-skill, high-wage opportunities in the coming years and into the next decade. Investments totaling $195 million were awarded  to 13 regions.

“Many workers in the regions represented at this meeting have felt the results of dislocation and need to acquire new skills,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco. “The WIRED initiative targets communities impacted by rapid change and works with them to re-skill their workforce so it becomes a beacon for economic development and new jobs.”

The Department of Labor-led WIRED initiative is a part of the broader American Competitiveness Initiative the President outlined in his State of the Union Address.

The regions that competed successfully for the three-year, $15 million investments are: Coastal Maine, Northeast Pennsylvania, Upstate New York, Piedmont Triad North Carolina, Central Michigan, Western Michigan, Florida Panhandle, Western Alabama-Eastern Mississippi, North Central Indiana, Greater Kansas City, Denver Metro Region, Central and Eastern Montana and California Coast.

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