The Delta Regional Authority (DRA) has initiated a partnership with Iowa-based nonprofit ACT to help DRA counties and parishes create the infrastructure and policies that support local workforce development and training systems through a region-specific version of the ACT Work Ready Communities Academy.

"The most important asset to a community in attracting business investment and creating jobs is having a skilled and trained workforce," DRA Federal Co-Chairman Chris Masingill said.

Community officials and educational leadership from the following Tennessee counties in the DRA region are participating in the ACT Delta Academy: Tennessee: Benton, Carroll, Crockett, Dyer, Gibson, Haywood, Henry, Lake, Lauderdale, Obion, Tipton, and Weakley The ACT Work Ready Communities initiative is intended to help communities link education and workforce development, certify the skill levels of the local workforce, and respond to the needs of employers by helping to match qualified individuals with available jobs. Certified ACT Work Ready Communities are regarded as the optimal places for businesses to locate or expand. At the core of the ACT Work Ready Communities initiative is the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate®(ACT NCRC®). This nationally recognized and portable credential is based on three essential workplace skill categories: applied math, reading for information, and locating information. Since January 2006, more than 2.75 million Americans have earned an ACT NCRC.

The ACT NCRC helps assure employers that the people they hire and promote have the skills necessary to succeed. Counties that have sustainable, ongoing certification efforts are attractive to employers in terms of economic development. Of the DRA-region counties and parishes participating in academy workshops, two parishes in Louisiana--Avoyelles and Rapides--are already certified as ACT Work Ready Communities. The DRA-ACT partnership seeks to increase the number of counties and parishes in the DRA region with a skilled workforce prepared to attract and retain jobs through new business investment and expansion.

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