The Division of Economic and Workforce Development at The University of West Alabama
January 2020
Economic Development
UWA announces Alabama Summit on Rural Innovation and Entrepreneurship

  The Division of Economic & Workforce Development at the University of Alabama has announced that their highly successful series of rural summits will continue with the next scheduled for Friday, April 17 at the Bell Conference Center on the UWA campus.

The Alabama Summit on Rural Innovation & Entrepreneurship will focus on two primary areas - nurturing new, emerging and growing entrepreneurs in Alabama and fostering and building entrepreneurial communities in Alabama's rural counties.

"An exciting and dynamic group of presenters and speakers have been secured to provide some of the best entrepreneurial talent available in Alabama and around the country.  The Summit, as previous ones, will provide participants with hands-on experiences and practical knowledge that can be taken home and applied," according to DEWD Senior Advisor Johnnie Aycock.

"As part of our mission in the Division of Economic & Workforce Development, these summits are designed to provide encouragement, leadership and innovative solutions for Alabama's rural communities in building and revitalizing Alabama's rural communities," emphasized Dr. Tina Jones, Vice President of the Division.

Presenting sponsors in addition to UWA are Alabama Power Company and AT&T.  Additional partners for the summit are:  Economic Development Association of Alabama; Economic Partnership of Alabama; Chamber of Commerce Association of Alabama; Alabama Launchpad; Co-Starters; Alabama Communities of Excellence; Main Street Alabama; Opportunity Alabama; and the Alabama Small Business Development Centers.

Registration will soon be available for the April 17th  event with a registration cost of $25 per person. Watch for the notice.  In the meanwhile, for more details, call 1.833.UWAWORK.

Visit Sumter County through Bicentennial Audio Tour
Sumter County audio tour guide sheet.  

The tour  is a self-guided tour of historic sites throughout the county. The tour was developed through the Black Belt Heritage Area managed by the Center for the Study of the Black Belt at UWA, and Alabama Bicentennial Community Grants to the Sumter County Commission, and the municipalities of Gainesville, Livingston, and York. Each si te features a short history recorded by local citizens.

Please view/download the attached site location guide for information and instructions to access the tour by phone, website, or at the site location via a QR code located on the panel.

To access the tour online, visit and enter the 3-digit site number, identified on the attached site guide, in the bottom right keypad.

Welcome to Sumter County, Alabama and enjoy the tour!

By Phone: Use your cell phone to explore the site by dialing (334) 450-0130. Listen for a prompt and press the 3-digit site number.

By Website: Visit and enter the 3-digit site identification number in the bottom right keypad. (Site codes are listed on the attached guide.)

By QR Code: A QR Code Reader App is required on a cell phone. Scan the QR Code on the bottom right of the site panel.

For more information, please contact Gena Robbins at or call (205) 652-5545.

Click here for audio tour location site list.

Audio tour kick-off reception held...
Community members enjoyed the Bicentennial Audio Tour reception at the Black Belt Museum on Dec. 11, 2019.

Workforce Development
Sumter County continues positive progress in the ACT WorkReady Communities Program

As of January, Sumter County has achieved 93% of its goal for recertification in the ACT WorkReady Communities Program.
In 2016, Sumter County was the first county in the state of Alabama to be certified as an ACT Work Ready Community. Tuscaloosa soon followed, helping Region 3 Workforce Council of Alabama become a certified region. 
Work Ready Communities are a national effort, led by ACT, to provide a framework for states, regions, and counties to build an economic development, community-based approach grounded in certifying counties as Work Ready. The foundation of a community's certification is based on individuals at the county level across the current, transitioning and emerging workforce earning a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) and employers recognizing or recommend the NCRC.

Since the county's certification as a Work Ready Community, the University of West Alabama's Division of Economic and Workforce Development has administered the ACT Work Keys Assessments for employers to use during their hiring process and for individuals that would like to earn an industry-recognized credential. 

The ACT Work Keys Assessments measure basic work skills: Applied Mathematics, Graphic Literacy, and Workplace Documents. Based on an individual's performance on the assessments, the NCRC is awarded at four levels of achievement-Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.  

The ACT Work Keys Assessments are administered on Fridays at Kelly Land Hall on the UWA campus. Individuals interested taking the ACT Work Keys Assessments can contact call (205) 652-3828. Individuals must register to take the test, and a $45 fee is charged.   

Career Pathways for Youth update 
Six earn CPR certification 
CPR Instructor, Carolyn Cartwright, discusses the importance of proper CPR technique with students of the WIOA Career Pathways for Youth: Certified Nursing Assistant Program. 

The University of West Alabama's (UWA) WIOA Career Pathways for Youth: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Program hosted a CPR workshop for six participants on December 19 at UWA. All six participants earned their CPR certification, a required credential for healthcare workers.
Shea Etheridge, CNA Program Coordinator and Instructor, said, "CPR is absolutely essential for all CNA students to master, both professionally and personally. One never knows when an emergency situation may arise that could require life-saving CPR." 

"This is an important milestone for CNA students in our program, " said Jordan Mahaffey, WIOA Program Director at UWA's Division of Economic and Workforce Development. "This is the first, tangible credential nurse aide students earn in the program, marking an important step in their professionalization and preparation for employment in the healthcare industry."

Participants who go on to complete the CNA program will be qualified to take the National Nurse Aide Assessment, which certifies individuals to work as nursing assistants in nursing homes, group homes, hospitals and other health care facilities. 
UWA's Division of Economic and Workforce Development (DEWD) administers the CNA and Entry-Level Automotive Technician programs in partnership with the UWA Division of Nursing, the UWA College of Business Technology, and the Region 3 Workforce Development Council.
This free program is possible through funding made available to the State of Alabama from the Federal Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The grantor is the U.S. Department of Labor and the program is administered by the Alabama Department of Commerce, Workforce Development Division, AWDA Section.

Interested individuals should pick up an application and eligibility requirements at the Division of Economic and Workforce Development office located at the University of West Alabama, Kelly Land Hall. To inquire by phone, call Jordan Mahaffey, WIOA Program Director, at (205) 652-3828 or email her at .

Click here for a WIOA program information flyer.
Community Outreach
Jones joins board of the Alabama State Council on the Arts

Dr. Tina Naremore Jones
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey has appointed Dr. Tina Naremore Jones, vice-president of the Division of Economic and Workforce Development to the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

"I am honored to be asked to serve," said Jones. "Through the years, I have been fortunate to have worked with ASCA through the Sumter County Fine Arts Council, the Sucarnochee Folklife Festival, the Alabama Folklife Association, Black Belt Treasures and the Black Belt Community Foundation. I have seen firsthand the value a thriving arts community contributes to our state in both economic impact and quality of life. I look forward to learning even more about ASCA and its great work."

Jones began her term on Jan. 1 and will serve five years. 

In addition to this appointment, Jones has been asked to serve on West Alabama/Tuscaloosa Regional Council of Leadership Alabama. Jones is a 2017 graduate of the statewide program. 

Interested in being a Festival vendor? 
Click here to download a Festival vendor form.

UWA staff participates in state
Bicentennial Celebration finale

Monica Moore demonstrates weaving to visitors. 
The grand finale of Alabama's three-year bicentennial commemoration was held on Dec. 14, 2019 in Montgomery. DEWD staff members, Monica Moore, Brian Mast and Gena Robbins participated in the 200th birthday party celebration. 
The historic event included a parade, exhibitions, performances and open houses in the Capitol Complex, up and down Dexter Avenue and throughout downtown Montgomery. 

Moore and Mast participated as living history demonstrators, showcasing the art of weaving and life on the western frontier. They were stationed at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. 

Participating in the Bicentennial Parade were, pictured l-r, Susan Smith, Gena Robbins and Susan Youngblood.
Robbins participated in the Alabama Bicentennial Parade from Dexter Avenue to the State Capitol,and was joined by Selma Councilwoman Susan Youngblood and Atmore Councilwoman Susan Smith. The group also attended a special Bicentennial event 
on Friday, Dec. 12, 2019 and heard a  presentation by Former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

Click here to view Bicentennial Finale pictures.

Robbins attends Women's Municipal Leaders Conference at White House

Robbins and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

York Mayor Gena Doggett Robbins, (pictured front right), UWA's Division of Economic and Workforce Development Public Relations Specialist, represented Alabama at the Women's Municipal Leaders Conference held on Dec. 12, 2019 in Washington, D.C. at the White House. Robbins joined 75 women from 29 states to discuss community issues with administrative officials, including United States Vice President Mike Pence. Also attending from Alabama was Mayor Leigh Dollar of Guntersville, (pictured back center).

"I was honored to be invited to represent York and Sumter County at the White House conference," said Robbins. "The conference offered the opportunity to share issues of concern for our area, while also discussing workable solutions for those concerns with officials and other municipal leaders from across the nation."

Black Belt Bounty celebrates the Black Belt's hunting and fishing heritage

Black Belt Bounty, a new literary work of art celebrates the rich traditions of hunting and fishing that are so deeply embedded in the lives of those who are fortunate to call Alabama's Black Belt home. Its captivating cover will draw you into the pages filled with striking images from some of today's most gifted wildlife photographers and artists and their visual offerings are perfectly counterbalanced by words from an impressive bevy of skilled, award-winning writers and recipes from some of Alabama's nationally recognized celebrity chefs.

As an exquisitely produced coffee table book, it's a treasure no devotee of the natural world, no serious sportsman, and no connoisseur of stunning visual art and stirring words will want to be without. It is a volume that will bring distinction to the shelves and tables of any bibliophile and lover of the Alabama heartland and who enjoys sporting adventures in these bountiful wonders of sedge grass fields and sprawling prairies, our woodlands and waterways.

For more information and to order/purchase
Black Belt Bounty, please click here.

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

Every household will have the option of resonding online, by mail or by phone. 

Click here (this is a two-page pdf file) to  read about how you will be contacted to respond to the CENSUS. 

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Center for the Study of the Black Belt
Black Belt Garden
Black Belt Archives
DEWD Partners
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 .
Mark Your Calendar

 UWA Certified Nursing Assistant 
program and Certified
 Automotive Technician program now 

Click here to 
download  the
 Certified Automotive Technician flyer.

Click here to download the Certified Nursing Assistant flyer.

ACT Work Ready Communities Report
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 
ACT Workkeys Assessment Testing takes place every Friday. Upcoming 2020 dates include January 17, 24, and 31; and February 7, 14, 21, and 28. C ontact Director of Econ omic Developmen t Allison Brantley to register 
at  abrantley@uw   or call 205-652-3 618.

UWA Division of Economic and Workforce Development |