Changing the statistics

Published 9:23 am Wednesday, August 1, 2018

There have been a surge of actions and discussions revolving around business, economic development and industry growth. This discussion is important for a lot of reasons.

According to Labor Market Information for Lunenburg County from the Virginia Employment Commission, unemployment rate in 2017 in Lunenburg County was 4.4 percent. While certainly low, this compares with 3.8 percent in Virginia as a whole. The median income from the county in 2016 dollars, according to findings from the U.S. Census, is $39,911. The percentage of persons in poverty according to the census, is 19.8 percent.

We are glad to see the issue of potential lack of employment or lack of businesses, a serious issue throughout Southside Virginia, being addressed from all angles.

One angle is through the Community Business Launch (CBL) program through Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), which the towns of Victoria and Kenbridge are partnering to generate economic vitality in the area.

Another is through a potential endeavor to equip students and employers with a certification that can serve them while searching for a job, in addition to testing them on the skills needed to be a top-notch employee.

The potential idea came from Lee Ann Mahan with the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, based in Danville, who spoke to the chamber about the county further implementing the WorkKeys National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), an assessment that demonstrates students’ work readiness. The assessment’s already available at Central High School, but the program would further mandate that students take the test in order for the county to earn the title of a Southern Virginia Work Ready Community.

Any endeavors to strengthen the workforce requires the collaboration of the local government, and in the case of the NCRC, the Lunenburg County public school system. In order to change some of the statistics relating to poverty and unemployment levels, it’s important that we take a careful and collaborative approach into implementing the programs that would best serve our workforce.