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It’s Official: Jessamine County is ‘Work Ready’

Kentucky’s Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Hal Heiner announced Monday that Jessamine County has been officially certified as a Kentucky Work Ready Community.

“I am excited to announce that we now have 38 counties that have achieved Work Ready Communities certification by the Kentucky Workforce Innovation Board (KWIB) and there are 50 counties in progress to become Work Ready Communities,” Heiner said in a press release.

“Everything we aspire to economically is contingent on our communities having a skilled workforce that is ready and able to fulfill the needs of employers. Earning the Kentucky Work Ready Communities certification gives counties a competitive edge when businesses are looking for a new location or want to expand in Kentucky. I encourage all communities in the Commonwealth to pursue the Work Ready designation,” he said.

The Kentucky Work Ready Communities certification program from the KWIB and the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet assures employers a local workforce has the talent and skills necessary to staff existing jobs and to master the innovative technologies new jobs will require.

To achieve certification, a county must gather local support and commitment then apply for the Work Ready Community designation. Counties have to meet criteria in six areas including high school graduation rates, National Career Readiness Certificate holders, demonstrated community commitment, educational attainment, soft-skills development and digital literacy.

Counties that achieve Kentucky Work Ready status must be re-certified every three years to retain their status.

“The Kentucky Work Ready Communities program momentum is growing as more communities learn about the certification and how it can help them achieve a higher level of competitiveness among business and industry,” said Hugh Haydon, chair of KWIB.

Applications for the certification are reviewed by a panel appointed by the KWIB. The panel recommends certification by the board for the counties that satisfy the criteria. The panel meets four times a year to review applications, which can be submitted at any time.

For more information about the Kentucky Work Ready Communities program, go to http://workready.ky.gov.

Nicholasville Mayor Pete Sutherland points out the educational benefits of a program at the high school level for graduates that would have them ready industrial jobs right out of school. He uses the course partnerships between the Jessamine Career and Technology Center and the Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington as an example of the partnerships that the Work Ready designation is already bringing to the county’s school system. It is the growth of jobs, Sutherland said, that everyone is after.

“We’re trying to be a community that is not just growth of houses and that type of thing, but we want to have an industrial base,” Sutherland said. “That helps with payroll tax and property tax, and it helps all general government systems work properly. Plus, it gives people the opportunity to have good jobs right here in Nicholasville.”

Wilmore Mayor Harold Rainwater agrees and said he is proud of the designation, as well as hopeful for the impact that it will have on the county as a whole.

“I’m proud of Jessamine County,” Rainwater said. “When you’re a ‘Wilmoron’ you’re a Jessamine Countian, and the initiative of the county judge and the mayor of Nicholasville and the school system and the Chamber that worked so hard … they did the work, and they did the promoting. I’m just proud to be a Jessamine County member and a part of a team that’s moving forward.”

Rainwater said the designation will be a benefit for the entire county, for both the workforce living in Nicholasville and Wilmore, but for the potential jobs that it can bring in as well.

“Any time that there is an economic boost for Wilmore, Nicholasville wins and when Nicholasville wins, Wilmore wins,” he said. “Payroll generated out of Jessamine County or Nicholasville ultimately flows back to the whole county. There’s a trickle-down effect of jobs and we have to have jobs. That’s the most important thing to me that should be focused on right now, being solvent with jobs. We don’t want to become just a bedroom community. We want to provide employment here.”

According to Sutherland, the road signs announcing the county’s Work Ready status should be posted by the end of the week.