Betts Co. employee Avelino Meza winds a red-hot coil at the company's Fresno manufacturing facility in this 2018 file photo. Manufacturing is one of the sectors targeted in Central Valley Built 4 Scale.
Written by Gabriel Dillard
An ambitious workforce program to place 2,500 Central Valley residents into high-demand jobs received a $23 million infusion from the federal government this week.
The program is called Central Valley Built 4 Scale and will be administered by the Fresno County Economic Development Corp. It is one of 32 projects in the U.S. receiving grants from a pool of 509 applicants as part of the American Rescue Plan’s $500 million Good Jobs Challenge.
Built 4 Scale will leverage the resources of local organizations and employers to create apprenticeship opportunities, bootcamp-style and individualized training programs and career placement services to match 2,500-plus residents in Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties with jobs in sectors including financial services, manufacturing, transportation, logistics, construction and more.
The program is unique in that these are jobs just waiting to be filled by qualified candidates. The Fresno EDC already has firm hiring commitments from more than 50 local employers to hire more than 900 of those employees.
“This announcement is a big deal for our Valley! Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, we are accelerating America’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic,” said Rep Jim Costa. “This $23 million grant will bolster our regional economy by creating new, good-paying jobs in construction, financial services, and manufacturing industries. I am proud to have advocated for this project and voted to provide the funding that made it possible. This will help build a stronger, more resilient economy for the people of the San Joaquin Valley.”
Finding a qualified, educated workforce has been a top challenge for local employers, with forecasts that the Central Valley will need more than 10,000 new employees in those target sectors by 2026.
The Fresno EDC has extensive experience in job-training programs through administering the Fresno County-funded welfare-to-work program, which has provided $12.6 million in subsidized wages, enrolled 280 businesses and supported nearly 1,900 job placements since 2014.
The Good Jobs Challenge awards are expected to help place more than 50,000 Americans in “quality jobs” — exceeding the local prevailing wage for an industry in the region and including basic benefits.
The Fresno EDC is one of only two California projects funded. The other is $21.4 million for the Foundation for California Community Colleges to launch a forestry workforce training program.
“This funding will launch quality workforce training programs and opportunities to help workers develop new skills, address workforce needs and connect people with good-paying jobs in the Central Valley,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom. “I thank the Biden Administration for investing in our efforts to support businesses and workers throughout California.”