The Division of Economic and Workforce Development at The University of West Alabama
April 2020
Community Outreach
UWAWORKS Website Built To Serve Rural Black Belt

The Division of Economic & Workforce Development launched its new website UWAWORKS to be an outreach support site for economic, workforce, and community development for rural counties in West Alabama. The site is not academic, but focuses on providing information and resources to economic and business leaders, public officials, economic prospects, workforce development leaders and other organizations.
As the site was in development when the coronavirus pandemic broke out, the DEWD team moved quickly to adjust UWAWORKS to be a "go to" source for information and connections to a wealth of support to meet the challenges of this unprecedented pandemic that has impacted so many businesses, employers, employees, communities and citizens.  While sections of the site remain under construction, the team made the decision to launch to site in order to connect stakeholders to quality partners, with the belief that by working together, we all can benefit.
Site development was led by Coline Bourrigan, our outstanding UWA senior intern, with guidance from UWA's Integrated Marketing & Communications team. We are deeply grateful for Bourrigan's expertise, knowledge and diligence in making UWAWORKS a reality.
We encourage you to check out Let us know what you think as well as any suggestions to improve and expand the site.  Our goal is to serve your needs and interests; therefore, we appreciate your feedback.

Let us hear from you! 

These are unprecedented and challenging times for all of us. Our team, therefore, wants to better serve and respond to identified needs in our region.  We request and encourage your participation in a brief survey.  Your responses are vital so that we can appropriately and effectively serve our rural communities.  
This survey will only take about 5 minutes to complete and return. 

More than 650 face shields provided to growing list of facilities and organizations in Black Belt region

Black Belt Museum's Director James Lamb (right), hands over mask shields to Grove Hill 
Police Chief Brian Keith Anderson (left).

During COVID-19, The staff of the Black Belt Museum has been using its expertise in 3D Printing to build face shields for the community. 

Black Belt Museum Director James Lamb, Public Historian Brian Mast and Technician Tim Truelove are using their 3D printers and borrowed ones from University Charter School and UWA's College of Education to continue to print face shields at home through the shelter-in-place order issued by Gov. Kay Ivey on Friday, April 3. 
The staff has now distributed more than 650 face shields to Clarke, Greene, Marengo, Sumter, Hale and Wilcox counties in Alabama and Lauderdale County in Mississippi. 

These face masks are used by essential heroes of the Black Belt like fire fighters and nursing homes who serve their communities.

Black Belt Museum Technician Tim Truelove drops off masks to Sumter Health and Rehab.

"We are happy to provide support to the many Medical health professionals in Clarke, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Sumter, Wilcox counties in Alabama and Lauderdale in Mississippi so far who are getting critical PPE to help meet their needs to combat the spread of this virus. Our staff will continue to "Do Something That Matters" as part of our museum's mission to be part of the community that makes up our great region." says Brian J Mast, Public Historian at the Black Belt Museum.

To get the latest updates on their work, don't forget to follow the Black Belt Museum on Facebook. 

Economic Development
Port of Epes Industrial Park to receive $1.7 million for dredging

Canal and plant rendering at Port Epes Industrial Park

The University, IDA, and Sumter county Commission have been working with Enviva since the beginning of 2018 in recruiting Enviva to the Port of Epes Industrial Park, Sumter County, Alabama. Enviva Pellets Epes, LLC ("Enviva"), the largest wood pellet producer in the United States, plans to invest approximately $175 million in the Port of Epes Industrial Park for a new production facility and employ a minimum of 85 employees (estimated at more than $3.5 million in new payroll). The company's wood supply purchases are estimated at $30 million per year and will support the local and state's forestry industry. Enviva's large-scale wood pellet mill will produce approximately 600,000 metric tons per year of wood pellets for export to Europe and Asia as a fuel source.  At full production, the operation will process approximately 1.3 million tons per year of pulpwood, sawmill residues, and logging slash as raw material.  All finished product will be transported to the Gulf Coast Port of Pascagoula, Mississippi for storage and ship loading.

"This is huge and exciting news  and presents a wonderful opportunity for Port of Epes and Sumter County.  This is the last piece of the puzzle we need to complete all of the infrastructure projects at Port of Epes. This is the first time Sumter County has ever received an EDA grant.  The Waterway and the barge slip and the funding available were what sold Enviva on theh Port of  Epes location.  This will also allow for future growth of the Port in developing a Port Facility and in recruiting efforts.  Enviva and the Project as a whole will have a multi-million dollar impact: earnings impact associated with the jobs total over $6,185,083 per year and would result in a $9,069,908 contribution to Sumter County's Gross Domestic Product." Said Allison Brantley, Director of Economic Development. 

This grant was the final grant needed to complete all of the Infrastructure Projects at the Port of Epes Industrial Park; it completes the Grants' Incentive Package for the Park and Enviva. 

Click Here for a detailed list of the other Infrastructure grants.

Our partners in this project are:  UWA, IDA, Sumter County Commission, City of Livingston, Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission, Goodwyn Mills and Cawood (Engineering Firm), TTL Inc (Engineering Firm), and Alabama Power.

Workforce Development
UWA Career Pathways for Youth program moves forward despite COVID-19

Recent CNA graduates pose with certificates of completion on March 6, 2020. 

The University of West Alabama's (UWA) Career Pathways for Youth: Certified Nursing Assistant Program held graduation on March 6 at the UWA campus in Livingston. Five participants earned certificates of completion, qualifying them to sit for the Alabama National Nurse Aide Assessment and making them eligible to seek employment as a nursing assistant. 

The CNA Program also held an orientation for six new CNA students on March 16 and began the transition to remote instruction and service delivery in response to COVID-19. In-person services ceased the following day, and remote service delivery started immediately. 

"We are fortunate we can offer instruction remotely through Blackboard, UWA's online learning system, and do not have to cease this necessary training," said Jordan Mahaffey, Program Director. "There is a demand for qualified CNAs and automotive technicians in our region, and recent events have only made the need even more clear. We are happy to do our part to fill this gap." 

Participants in the program earn several achievements, at no cost to them. Students work to obtain their National Career Readiness Certificate, as well as CPR certification, Alabama Nurse Aide certification, ASE Entry-Level Automotive Technician certification, and other certifications. All students receive training in essential job skills, such as communication, time management, and financial literacy. After completing the program, the staff assists the student for at least 12 months in their transition to full-time employment. 

UWA's Division of Economic and Workforce Development (DEWD) administers the Career Pathways Program in partnership with the Alabama Career Center System, UWA Division of Nursing, UWA College of Business Technology, and the Region 3 Workforce Development Council. The UWA Career Pathways for Youth Program is funded 100% with Federal Funds made available to the State of Alabama Department of Commerce by the U. S. Department of Labor/Employment and Training Administration as the Grantor.

CNA Instructor, Shea Etheridge, teaches students about infection control and COVID-19 at CNA 19.3 orientation on March 16, 2020. 

Do you need training to jump-start your career? Are you an employer looking to hire nursing assistants or entry-level automotive technicians? Jordan Mahaffey, Program Director, invites interested individuals and organizations to contact her by phone at (205) 652-5494 or by email at

For CNA program information, click here
For automative technician information, click here.

COVID-19 Resources/Updates
New Screening Site in Livingston

WHEN : Tuesdays & Thursdays 
TIME: 9:00 a.m. until noon
WHERE:  Livingston Community Center 

Look for the  crimson and white  mobile medical vehicle unit. 
- The team we will attempt to screen all who come during the designated time period. However, only those who meet current Alabama Department of Public Health guidelines will be tested. 
-Tests are limited. 
-You do not have to have health insurance to be screened.

COVID-19 reopening playbook

The Work Hard. Work Smart. Work Safe. Playbook is a complete guide to ensure a safe and peaceful reopening of businesses. 

COVID-19: Important information for local leaders 
Download  here  the latest information regarding COVID-19 in Alabama. 

It is more important than never to be counted 

Funding for Programs that Impact You, Your Family and Our Communities
Funding to Alabama for many important programs that affect health care, education, housing assistance, infrastructure development and more is tied in some form to census data. An accurate count will ensure that the state receives its fair share of funding for these important programs.  A recent study indicates that the U.S. government returned almost $1,600 to the state in 2015 for every Alabamian counted in the census.

To find out more about why the Census is important to you and all of Alabama, visit the following link 

To apply for a job with the US Census, click here.

The Career Center staff is still available to serve you! 
Call 334-289-0202

Follow us on  
facebook at

Get your tickets HERE for The Alabama Summit on Rural Innovation & Entrepreneurship

ACT Work Ready Communities Repor t
Sumter County is a certified Work Ready Community with 93% of county goals completed. A complete report description is available at the link below. 

Click here to view the 
 ACT Work Ready Communities report.

ACT Workkeys 
During COVID-19 our regularly scheduled ACT Workkeys testing has been suspended. However, we are still available to assist individuals in preparing for testing and to schedule test post COVID-19 restrictions. For information, call (205)652-3828 or email

UWA Certified Nursing Assistant 
program and Certified
 Automotive Technician program are still 

Click here to 
download  the
 Certified Automotive Technician flyer.

Click here to download the Certified Nursing Assistant flyer.
Division of Economic and Workforce Development

Alabama Black Belt Heritage Area
Alabama's Black Belt:
Where the Culture is as Rich as the Land. The Alabama Black Belt Heritage Area comprises 19 counties in central and western Alabama that are working together to attain designation as a National Heritage Area.
Visit them on Facebook here .
UWA Division of Economic and Workforce Development |