The Division of Economic and Workforce Development at The University of West Alabama
June 2019
UWA to host Opportunity Zone workshop

The Division of Economic & Workforce Development of the University of West Alabama, in partnership with Opportunity Alabama, will present "Building Your Opportunity Zone Tool Kit" on Thursday, June 13, at UWA's Student Union Building in the Tiger's Den from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Opportunity Zones were created in 2017 by Congress as part of the Federal Tax Cuts & Job Acts with the goal of spurring new economic investment in low income, challenged areas in the United States with poverty rates of at least 20% and median family income of less than 80% of the statewide or area median income.

(Click here to view Opportunity Zone locations in Alabama.)

In Alabama, 158 census tracts were designated by Governor Kay Ivey as places that could benefit from a new influx of capital.  In West Alabama, Sumter, Marengo Hale, Greene and Perry counties make up the largest contiguous opportunity zone land mass in the state. There are also Opportunity Zones in other Black Belt counties such as Wilcox, Clarke, Choctaw and Pickens, but they are not contiguous. 

"Opportunity Zones have the potential to transform and reshape rural and challenged communities in Alabama through private investment and targeted economic development',  said  Dr. Tina Jones, Vice President of UWA's Division of Economic & Workforce Development.  "Our goal is to assist communities in the region and rural Alabama in developing practical tools to assist with economic growth and utilizing programs such as Opportunity Zones."

The principle presenter and workshop leader will be Mr. Alex Flachsbart, CEO of Opportunity Alabama. Opportunity Alabama is a first-of-its-kind nonprofit initiative dedicated to connecting investors with investable assets in Alabama's Opportunity Zones.  Through his nationally-recognized leadership, the organization is working to build an impact-based Opportunity Zone ecosystem in Alabama to provide access to capital for Alabama's low income communities.
Registration is open to the public.  The workshop will be especially valuable to elected officials, economic developers, business and corporate leaders, investors and entrepreneurs. A $20 registration is required. To register, go to: .

For questions, contact  Johnnie Aycock at ( 205) 652-3433 or (205) 765-9332.

Click here to register.
Click here for event flyer.

WIOA Career Pathways Program at UWA now accepting applications for CNA and automotive training programs

  The University of West Alabama's Division of Economic and Workforce Development received funding to host their WIOA Career Pathways for Youth Program for another year.  The program's request for funding was approved on May 2 at the Region 3 Quarterly Workforce Summit.  Funding was awarded to expand the program to include automotive technician training beginning in July of 2019. The existing CNA Program, which began in 2016, was also approved for another year. Young adults between the ages of 16 to 24 that have a high school diploma or GED and are currently out of school are encouraged to apply for the 2019-2020 Program Year.
"We are very excited to expand our program to include automotive training," said Jordan Mahaffey, WIOA Program Director at UWA's Division of Economic and Workforce Development. "This expansion allows us to serve not only another industry in our region, but also more individuals in need of training to start their careers." The program will serve 60 participants in Greene, Marengo, Sumter, and surrounding counties. 
Participants who complete the Automotive Technician program will be qualified to take the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Entry-Level Certification, which certifies individuals to work as automotive technicians. Participants who 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. 
"I loved this program," said Kierra Hudson, a Perry County resident and participant in UWA's CNA program. "This program helped me much more than just allowing me to earn CPR certification and a CNA certificate. It showed me I can make my dreams come true. It also showed me I have more potential than I give myself credit for. This is a really good program and I advise anyone to just give it a try." 
In addition, participants will take the ACT WorkKeys assessment to obtain National Career Readiness Certification as well as receive their CPR certification, OSHA safety certification, and training in essential job readiness skills such as communication and financial literacy. 
"There is a documented demand for both qualified CNAs and automotive technicians in our region and the state of Alabama," said Tina Jones, Vice President of UWA's Division of Economic Development and Outreach. "We are fortunate to be able to collaborate with UWA's Division of Nursing and College of Business Technology with this program. Their facilities combined with quality teaching will provide our participants with a great opportunity to receive hands-on instruction in a real world environment."  
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  call Jordan Mahaffey, WIOA Program Director, at (205) 652-3828 or email her at

Alabama prepares for the "Alabama Counts" 2020 Census

What is Alabama Counts?
The next census of the United States will be taken in 2020. A full and accurate count is critical for Alabama's communities because many of the federal programs distribute money to the state based on statistics. An under count or drop in census numbers for Alabama will mean less funding allocated to the state and - as an extension - to your community.
The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.  The purpose is to conduct a census of population and housing and disseminate results to the President, the states, and the American people.  The primary uses for decennial census data are:
  • Reapportionment
  • Government Resource Allocation
  • Redistricting
  • Demographic Data
All responses to Census Bureau surveys and censuses are confidential and protected under Title 13 of the U.S. Code. Under this law, the Census Bureau is required to keep respondent information confidential. Census Bureau will never share a respondent's personal information with immigration enforcement agencies; law enforcement agencies; or allow it to be used to determine their eligibility for government benefits. The results from any census or survey are reported in statistical format only.

Why does the 2020 Census matter to Alabama?
Alabama has much at stake with the 2020 Census. Due to our state's slowed population growth, we are in danger of losing at least one of our seven congressional seats, as well as federal funding that benefits our families, children, and communities. According to the George Washington Institute of Public Policy, Alabama currently receives $1,567 per capita through census-guided programs - this funding affects everyone. Fortunately, by participating in the 2020 Census we can protect our most valuable resources, including hospitals, police and fire departments, schools, and roads and bridges.
The census is essential, which is why we must take matters into our own hands - together, we can control Alabama's future. In 2010, 72 percent of Alabamians completed the census. This will not be enough in 2020, which is why we must ensure our 2020 Census count is complete, accurate, and fair.

Click here for an information flyer.

Visit the official Alabama Counts Census 
website at

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

Mast named Vice-President of Alabama Museums Association  

The University of West Alabama's Division of Economic and Workforce Development's Brian Mast, Black Belt Museum (BBM) Historian, was named Vice-President of the Alabama Museums Association.  The AMA member institutions are a collection of places where one will discover the story of Alabama and its people. (

As the BBM Historian, Mast provides a living history program that include eighteenth-century naturalist William Bartram, an eighteenth-century colonial French Marine and the eighteenth-century surveyor Captain Bernard Romans.  Dressed in authentic clothing, Mast travels to historic sites, schools and civic organizations across the state to portray these characters and raise awareness of the unique history of the Black Belt of Alabama. 

The educational program, designed for fourth, fifth and tenth grade levels, conforms to current State Core Standards for Alabama.     All programs use local history to help teach a larger narrative of Alabama and American history.

For more information, visit or contact Brian Mast

Sumter Renaissance Plan working to bring new life to county's economic development plan

A new collaboration among several entities across Sumter County is expected to bring revitalization, renewal and redevelopment to the area.

Sumter Renaissance is a project developed through the efforts of the Economic Development Leadership Academy, and it is centered around a strategic plan that highlights four major strategies. The project has brought together leaders from throughout county, including elected officials and business leaders.

Sumter Renaissance focuses on four major components essential to community success, including infrastructure and site selection, education and workforce development, livability, and leadership development with civic engagement.  The plan was adopted earlier this year by the Economic Development Leadership Academy, which was established at UWA in partnership with the University of Alabama.

The academy met on a monthly basis with one- and two-hour sessions discussing economic development practices and concepts in addition to Sumter County's needs and opportunities. After approximately nine months of work sessions, the team developed and unanimously adopted the Sumter County Renaissance plan. Subsequently, key public and private sector organizations have adopted and endorsed the plan, including the City of Livingston, City of York, Sumter County Commission, Sumter County Chamber of Commerce, and the University of West Alabama.

"The collaboration has been significant as everyone has come together with the understanding that the entire community must work together to reverse economic decline and job losses," explained Aycock, who has spent some 40 years in the field of economic development in west Alabama.

"This plan provides a framework for new direction and future expansion," Aycock said. "There is still much work to be done, but our next step in this is to take the plan to all municipalities, to other private and nonprofit organizations and the general publics."

Timelines and benchmarks to measure success are also being created, along with a management structure to guide the implementation of the plan.

"Sumter County has some real momentum right now," Aycock said. "With the growth UWA has experienced, along with the opening of University Charter School, the creative efforts of Livingston Alive for downtown revitalization, the new 'Healthy Places for Healthy People' initiative, and many other new opportunities, it is more important than ever to work together and make good things happen. The window of opportunity stays open for only a short time, so it's important that we move forward now, together."

Among the far-reaching goals for the academy is to establish groundwork for becoming a rural model for this type of economic development.

"Our program started after several conversations with Neal Wade, a former director of the Alabama Development Office and long-time economic development professional who now serves as executive director of the economic leadership academy at UA," explained Johnnie Aycock, special assistant to the president at UWA. "Joining together with Dr. Tina Jones, Vice-President of UWA's Division of Economic and Workforce Development, we launched UWA's EDLA.

"The process to improve Sumter County's job creation competitiveness has been an excellent model for communities around the state to replicate," Wade said. "The partnership between the University of Alabama's Economic Development Academy and the University of West Alabama provides an excellent example of how institutions and organizations can and must work together. For success, it takes a strong coordinating partner, and UWA has provided invaluable leadership and coordination to keep the local working committee focused on steps to move Sumter County forward."

The University has demonstrated its commitment to economic and workforce development through the development and implementation of several programs and initiatives in recent years, all with the emphasis on helping improve the quality of life for the region through education.

"Our ultimate goal in developing this leadership initiative is to help match expertise, resources, and commitment to enhancing the quality of life for our region," said UWA President Ken Tucker. "Our work reaches far beyond city, county, state, or even nation lines, and we believe that this model can be one for communities like ours to implement as they seek to empower their citizens. We are most proud to be part of a team that represents and is growing throughout every corner of Sumter County and involves leaders who know and understand our county's needs and opportunities. Their commitment and compassion for Sumter County, combined with a strategic plan, will certainly bring progress to our communities."

For more information on UWA's Economic Development Leadership Academy, contact Johnnie Aycock at or Dr. Tina N. Jones at

Click  here  to view the Renaissance Plan.

On the road with the Division of Economic and Workforce 
Development staff...

The Division of Economic and Workforce Development's Monica Moore, standing, participated as a UWA Black Belt Museum Living History demonstrator at the Horseshoe Bend National Military Park's 205th commemorative reenactment of the March 27, 1814 battle. 
For more information on the BBM Living History Programs, call (205) 652-3828 or click here.
To learn more about Horseshoe Bend, click here .

Visit the Black Belt Museum on Facebook at

(Which) Way to Go!
Navigating around campus at UWA just got easier with the installment of new street signs. The Division of Economic and Workforce Development (DEWD) is proud to have made this contribution to enhance the driving experience on campus.

Follow us on  
facebook at

Center for the Study of the Black Belt
Black Belt Garden
Black Belt Archives
DEDO 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 now

Click here to download  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.

UWA to host Alabama Bicentennial 2019 Summer Institutes 
 for teachers 

2018 Alabama Bicentennial Summer Institute class held at UWA.

UWA will host the Alabama Bicentennial Summer Institute for teachers: Cultivating America's Story-
The History of Alabama Through the Heritage of the Black Belt (Grades 10-12) at the 
University of West Alabama, Livingston, on June 10-12, 2019.

Instructors are Connie Boutwell, Demopolis High and School Mandy Mathis, Muscle Shoals High School

Please click here for more details or email 

ACT Workkeys 
ACT Workkeys Assessment Testing takes place every Friday. Upcoming dates are June 7, 14, 21 and 28.  For more information, contact Director of Econ omic Developmen t Allison Brantley to register at  abrantley@uw   or call 205-652-3 618.

Alabama Bicentennial Updates

Stay up to date on statewide educational news, discover diverse resources for teachers and administrators, and be featured as a 
Spotlight School by actively participating in the Alabama bicentennial celebration.

For more information, 
click here.

UWA Division of Economic and Workforce Development |