October 25, 2012

Some significantly progressive planned improvements to the region’s economic development effort came to light in Easley last week.

It involves the use of something called the WorkReady program essentially to market our region and state to outside business development. It may offer other advantages beyond its initial production of a listing of available skills.

The idea behind WorkReady is test for skills in our area that are marketable to different industries and compile a catalog of those skills and who possesses them.

We have been able to say in the past, “yea we have good workers.” Now we will be able to say, “Yea, we have good workers and here they are.” That is the description by Pickens County’s Economic Development Director Ray Farley who has been promoting Pickens business climate for about 15 years. The project can help our readers in Anderson County as well and across the state.

It was apparently put in front of Gov. Nikki Haley by a group of Upstate economic development types like Farley and Tri-County Technical College’s Bryan Swords. Tri-County Tech can play a key role in the project by providing testing to document available skills and refining the skills needed for specific industries that want to locate here.

Our own State Sen. Larry Martin is working on funding for the program. Yes it does require an investment. The state of Georgia invested in it and Dublin, Ga. became a target for a foreign investment that brought a plant hiring 1,000 employees.

Investing in a program that plays part of a role in such an endeavor is likely worthwhile. It is also not something we want to be left out of. We don’t want to be the place that does not offer such an attractive sales tool for our economic development effort.

Yea, we have good workers, but we have to know who they are and be able to prove it to industry with some degree of specificity.

Such a detailed study of workforce is also likely to lead to an analysis of skills that we don’t possess. Someone, somewhere along the way is going to notice that we need certain improvements in our training to meet a certain economic need.

It is a part of a new age of competing in a global economy. You heard it here first.