BDC receives $5K donation
The Business Development Corporation of the Northern Panhandle (BDC) is partnering with West Virginia Northern Community College (WVNCC) to develop a strategy to stay ahead of the anticipated workforce demands in the northern panhandle of West Virginia.
WesBanco, showing their commitment to this partnership, committed $5,000 for the initial investment in this strategy that BDC and WNCC officials are confident will increase the number of people entering the workforce with a marketable skill that will be attractive to regional industries.
“The strategy, currently being developed by the BDC and West Virginia Northern, will accelerate the number of people entering the regional workforce which will create employment opportunities for our residents and continue our efforts to grow our community,” said BDC Board Chairman, C. William D’Alesio.
According to statistics, over 3,200 jobs have been added in the northern panhandle of West Virginia since 2009 in the industry clusters of value-added metals, transportation logistics, energy, chemicals, and healthcare. The unemployment rate has dropped from over 13% to just over 6% in the same time. Concurrently, the Weirton-Steubenville metropolitan statistical area has been among the top metro areas in the country with the highest percentage increase in construction jobs.
“These statistics, coupled with the report released by West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics at last week’s Regional Economic Outlook Summit in Weirton, emphasize the need to plan for dropping unemployment rates and labor participation rates in the northern panhandle,” said BDC Executive Director Patrick Ford.
In particular, the shortage of welders is a well-documented issue in the Ohio River Valley. The BDC talked about the skilled trade workers shortage at the USEDA-sponsored Regional Economic Development Summit (REDS) in Weirton, WV this past October 2018. It is not showing any signs of getting better in the future. Industry experts estimate a demand for 3,500 welders in our region. The American Welding Society predicts the US will need more than 400,000 welders by 2025.
“This generous gift supports our efforts to respond to the expansion of the region’s workforce by providing industry driven skill-training that supports both manufacturing and advanced manufacturing of existing and potential new industries in our region,” said Mike Koon, Interim President of West Virginia Northern.