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Speakers announced for Summit on Rural Workforce

The University of West Alabama has joined with Alabama Power Company and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education to announce the speakers and featured panelists for the Alabama Summit on Rural Workforce Development, set for Nov. 1 at Bell Conference Center on the UWA campus in Livingston. The event features a broad slate of experts who bring unique perspectives to address rural Alabama’s need for building a workforce pipeline and economic development system.

Event coordinators expect the program and expertise that will gather to be a tremendous step forward in economic development, education, and overall quality of life for rural Alabamians.

“Following the impact and success of the recent Alabama Summit on Rural Technology earlier this year, we decided to continue to expand our efforts in rural workforce development,” said Dr. Tina Jones, vice president of UWA’s Division of Economic and Workforce Development. “UWA has grown into one of the state’s leading institutions of higher learning in fostering rural development.  This is a natural next step in our strategic efforts.”

“Our purpose is to help equip employers, economic development leaders, public and governmental officials, educators, and community leaders with the skills, knowledge and practical tools for addressing the unique talent and workforce development opportunities in our rural areas,” emphasized Jones.

The Summit’s featured speakers include Dr. Jim Purcell, executive director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, who will address “Building Alabama’s Economy & Workforce”; Mr. Jay Moon, CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers’ Association, who will speak on “The Future of Work”; and Mr. Nick Moore, education & workforce policy advisor to Governor Kay Ivey, who will present a call to action for building Alabama’s rural economy.  Mr. Roy Clem, executive director of Alabama Public Television, will serve as the event’s moderator.

A slate of regional and statewide leaders will participate in panels on Public Policy & Rural Workforce, Impact of Alabama’s Regional Workforce Councils, Manufacturing & the Future of Workforce, and the overall future of workforce preparation as applied specifically to Alabama’s rural counties.

The opening keynote speaker will be Dr. Jim Purcell, Executive Director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. Dr. Purcell was named Executive Officer in April 2017, having served previously as the lead executive officer in Rhode Island, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Purcell is a strong advocate for institutional research and planning as a means to implement policies and programs related to higher education. This organized approach provides a blueprint for expanding access to higher education and improving student attainment as well as influencing the future workforce of Alabama.

Lunch speaker Jay Moon is president and CEO of the 2,200-member Mississippi Manufacturers Association. With more than 25 years of economic development experience, he is known nationally for his progressive approach to economic and workforce issues. He is a Certified Economic Developer and serves on the board of the International Economic Development Council, the largest economic development organization in the world.

Mr. Nick Moore will close the event with a call to action. He possesses a wide-variety of dynamic professional experiences as a certified-high school teacher, a public policy analyst, and as a community developer. Moore currently serves Gov. Kay Ivey’s education and workforce policy advisor and as coordinator of the Governor’s Office of Education & Workforce Transformation.

A session on public policy and rural technology features Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington, Mr. Ed Castile, deputy secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce and director of AIDT; Mr. Nick Moore, and Mr. Joseph Brown, Western Division area manager of Alabama Power Company, who will moderate the session.

In a session dubbed “Building Alabama’s Workforce System,” leaders of Alabama’s workforce system will discuss resources, programming and opportunities for rural counties.  The session will be led by Mr. Ed Castile,  director of Alabama Industrial Development Training, and will feature three regional workforce council leaders, including: Mr. Donny Jones, executive director of West Alabama Works; Dr. Josh Duplantis, executive director of Southwest Alabama Works; and Mr. Aubrey Carr, chairman of Central Alabama Works.

From an employer’s perspective, a panel will focus on manufacturing and the future workforce. Mr. Jim Searcy, CEO of the Economic Development Association of Alabama will lead the conversation, which will feature Mr. George Clark, CEO of Manufacture Alabama; Mr. Ron Davis, president of the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association; and Mr. Chris Isaacson, executive vice president of the Alabama Forestry Association.

Participants should register prior to Oct. 25 at RuralWorkfoceSummit.eventbrite.com. Event registration is $25 and includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day. Seating is limited.

Alabama Power Company, the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, and the University of West Alabama are the presenting sponsors of the Summit.  Other partners for the event include Alabama Public Television; Economic Development Association of Alabama; Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association; Alabama Forestry Association; AIDT; Alabama Works; West Alabama Works; Southwest Alabama Works; Central Alabama Works; and Auburn Extension Service.

For more information, contact the UWA Division of Economic & Workforce Development. Call 1-833-UWA-WORK.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, October 2 issue of the Demopolis Times.)