The Division of Economic and Workforce Development at The University of West Alabama
September II 2019
Black Belt Museum Inaugural Gala and Silent Auction, Oct. 5

The Black Belt Museum and the University of West Alabama will host its first inaugural gala as a benefit event to support education and preservation of the natural and cultural history of the region. Funds raised will be used for exhibit construction, interactive school programs, and facility improvement. 

During the evening heavy hors-d'oeuvres and beverages will be available, selected replicas from the museum collections will be available for purchase by means of a silent auction, and a state of the museum address will be given by the museum director.

Please come join us for an evening of fun that will help to further the museum's success.  For more information, call (205) 652-3828
or email Sponsored by the York/Livingston Rotary Club.

Click here to register for the Gala.

Black Belt Museum celebrates Alabama

Making Alabama , A Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit is a statewide celebration of 200 years of statehood presented by Alabama Humanities Foundation in partnership with Alabama Department of Archives and History and Alabama Bicentennial Commission. The State of Alabama turns 200 on Dec. 14, and the Black Belt Museum wants to celebrate.

"The Bicentennial Traveling Exhibit allows us an opportunity to showcase not only Sumter County, but the Black Belt region and its significance to our state's story," said Black Belt Museum Director James Lamb.

The University of West Alabama's Division of Economic and Workforce Development's Black Belt Museum is hosting the exhibit through Oct. 18, from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m., Monday-Friday; and 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. on Saturdays. The Museum is located in downtown Livingston on the Sumter County Courthouse Square.

Dr_ Richard Bailey
Dr. Richard Bailey
As part of the AL200 celebration activities, noted historian and Alabama Bicentennial Scholar Dr. Richard Bailey of Montgomery will speak on the award-winning documentary 
Remembering Slavery
 at the Ruby Pickens Tartt Library on Friday, Oct. 4, at 4 p.m. His presentation will focus on slavery in Alabama and identify some of the descendants of Sumter County's enslaved population. The program in free and open to the public.

Group tours are available. The Black Belt Museum welcomes clubs, schools and visitors.

There is no charge for this exhibit. Exhibit hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; and Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1p.m.  For more information, contact Black Belt Museum Director James Lamb at or  call (205) 652-3725.

Click here for  exhibit information.
Economic Development
UWA partners with EPA/CUPP in pilot rural broadband project

UWA students and partners kickoff the 
rural broadband access project.

University of West Alabama students are taking the lead in piloting a rural broadband assessment project with the cities of Livingston and York.  
""Broadband access is a game-change, for not only for business and industry, but education, healthcare and everyday existence for our citizens," said Gena Doggett Robbins, Mayor of York. "Instead of living on the outskirts of the world, broadband places us in the middle of the world."     
Students from multiple disciplines enrolled in the Rural Broadband Strategies course attended training from Sept.18-20 with staff of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration ( NTIA ), an agency of the United States Department of Commerce ( DOC ).
NTIA's BroadbandUSA program serves communities, industry and nonprofits that want to expand broadband infrastructure and promote digital inclusion. NTIA is charged with providing technical assistance to communities in the development of broadband assessment plans. UWA students will now be the boots on the ground for NTIA for fieldwork.
Leveraging UWA's participation in the  College Underserved/Community Partnership Program ( CUPP ), UWA was able to connect partners and provide work-based learning at the same time.  CUPP enlists colleges and universities, with appropriate programs, to assist these underserved communities, with vital technical support, through student internships and capstone projects. 
"Rural Broadband Access emerged as one of the key initiatives of the Sumter Renaissance plan, a shared economic development plan for Sumter County that helped get us to this point," said Dr. Tina Jones, Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at UWA. "It is exciting to see the students take the next step in moving us that much closer to reaching our goals."
Dr. James Robinson, associate professor of physical education and athletic training and executive director of academic innovation and workforce readiness at UWA leads the UWA students in the class and helps coordinate with their discipline-specific instructors as the students work through the process of understanding how their various skillsets can positively impact the communities in which they are working.
"This is the first time that students are being used to conduct the research that communities need in order to develop viable broadband strategies. For us, it is exciting to know that we are breaking new ground and that we are helping build the process that other institutions and their students can follow to build stronger community connections," said Kyla Pratt, an Ed.D. candidate in UWA's Rural Education in Higher Education Administration track, said. "This course is much more hands-on and builds leadership skills, develops communication skills and provides us with opportunities to apply the knowledge we have learned in our respective courses."  
Students will have the opportunity to present their work in March in Washington, D.C. 
For this program, the University of West Alabama (UWA) is a partner with the United States Environmental Agency's ( EPA ) unit, The College Underserved/Community Partnership Program ( CUPP ), and The National Telecommunications and Information Administration ( NTIA ), an agency of the United States Department of Commerce ( DOC ).

For this program, the University of West Alabama (UWA) is a partner with the United States Environmental Agency's ( EPA ) unit, The College Underserved/Community Partnership Program ( CUPP ), and The National Telecommunications and Information Administration ( NTIA ), an agency of the United States Department of Commerce ( DOC ).

Leadership and Team Building session kicks off Leadership Sumter 2019-2020 class

University of West Alabama President Dr. Ken Tucker addresses the first session of 2019-2020 Leadership Sumter.

Leadership Sumter welcomed University of West Alabama President Dr. Ken Tucker as the first 2019-20 class session presenter on "Leadership and Team Building." The important topic included discussions on creating motivation, building better communication, developing problem solving skills, opening up social gates, and learning strategic ways to utilize team strengths.

"Leadership classes build a network of leaders who have learned about that their community together," said Director of Economic Development for UWA, Allison Brantley. "That shared experience helps them understand the experiences that each bring to the table when helping to solve the challenges that occur in any community."

This is the fourth Leadership SUMTER class and this year's programs are planned by the previous classes who continued to be involved in the program. 

Le adership Sumter allows communities within Sumter County to meet a requirement within the Alabama Communities of Excellence (ACE), a statewide program that provides professional, technical, and development resources and expertise to small cities with a population between 2,000 and 18,000.  The City of Livingston received its ACE Designation in 2012 and has recently been re-certified.
For more information on Leadership Sumter, contact Allison Brantley at or call (205) 652-3618.
Workforce Development


UWA, Alabama Power and Alabama Commission on Higher Education collaborate for first Alabama Summit on Rural Workforce Development, Nov. 1 

Event expected to advance economic, workforce and rural development across Alabama

The University of West Alabama has joined with Alabama Power Company and the Alabama Commission on Higher Education to announce the slate of speakers and featured panelists for the Alabama Summit on Rural Workforce Development, set for Nov. 1 at the Bell Conference Center on the UWA campus. The event features a broad slate of experts who bring unique perspectives to address rural Alabama's need for building a workforce pipeline and economic development system.
Event coordinators expect the program and expertise that will gather to be a tremendous step forward in economic development, education, and overall quality of life for rural Alabamians.
"Following the impact and success of the recent Alabama Summit on Rural Technology earlier this year, we decided to continue to expand our efforts in rural workforce development," said Dr. Tina Jones, Vice President of UWA's Division of Economic and Workforce Development. "UWA has grown into one of the state's leading institutions of higher learning in fostering rural development.  This is a natural next step in our strategic efforts."
"Our purpose is to help equip employers, economic development leaders, public and governmental officials, educators, and community leaders with the skills, knowledge and practical tools for addressing the unique talent and workforce development opportunities in our rural areas," emphasized Jones.
The Summit's featured speakers include Dr. Jim Purcell, Executive Director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, who will address "Building Alabama's Economy & Workforce"; Mr. Jay Moon, CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers' Association, who will speak on "The Future of Work"; and Mr. Nick Moore, Education & Workforce Policy Advisor to Governor Kay Ivey, who will present a call to action for building Alabama's rural economy.  Mr. Roy Clem, Executive Director of Alabama Public Television, will serve as the event's moderator.
A slate of regional and statewide leaders will participate in panels on Public Policy & Rural Workforce, Impact of Alabama's Regional Workforce Councils, Manufacturing & the Future of Workforce, and the overall future of workforce preparation as applied specifically to Alabama's rural counties.

The opening keynote speaker is, Dr. Jim Purcell, Executive Director of the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. Dr. Purcellwas named Executive Officer in April 2017, having served previously as the lead executive officer in Rhode Island, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Purcell is a strong advocate for institutional research and planning as a means to implement policies and programs related to higher education. This organized approach provides a blueprint for expanding access to higher education and improving student attainment as well as influencing the future workforce of Alabama.
Lunch speaker Jay Moon is the President & CEO of the 2,200-member Mississippi Manufacturers Association. With over 25 years of economic development experience, he is known nationally for his progressive approach to economic and workforce issues. He is a Certified Economic Developer and serves on the board of the International Economic Development Council, the largest economic development organization in the world.
Mr. Nick Moorewill close the event with a call to action. He possesses a wide-variety of dynamic professional experiences as a certified-high schoolteacher, a public policy analyst, and as a community developer.Moore currently serves Gov. Kay Ivey's education and workforce policy advisor and as coordinator of the Governor's Office of Education & Workforce Transformation.
A session on public policy and rural technology features Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington, Mr. Ed Castile, Deputy Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce and Director of AIDT; Mr. Nick Moore, and Mr. Joseph Brown, Western Division Area Manager of Alabama Power Company, who will moderate the session.
In a session dubbed "Building Alabama's Workforce System," leaders of Alabama's workforce system will discuss resources, programming and opportunities for rural counties.  The session will be led by Mr. Ed Castile,  Director of Alabama Industrial Development Training, and will feature three regional workforce council leaders, including: Mr. Donny Jones, Executive Director of West Alabama Works; Dr. Josh Duplantis, Executive Director of Southwest Alabama Works; and Mr. Aubrey Carr, Chairman of Central Alabama Works.
From an employer's perspective, a panel will focus on Manufacturing and The Future Workforce. Mr. Jim Searcy, CEO of the Economic Development Association of Alabama will lead the conversation, which will feature Mr. George Clark, CEO of Manufacture Alabama; Mr. Ron Davis, President of the Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association; and Mr. Chris Isaacson, Executive Vice President of the Alabama Forestry Association.
Participants should register prior to Oct. 25 at Event registration is $25 and includes lunch and refreshments throughout the day. There is limited seating, and the event is filling quickly.
Alabama Power Company, the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, and the University of West Alabama are the presenting sponsors of the summit.  Other partners for the event include: Alabama Public Television; Economic Development Association of Alabama; Alabama Automotive Manufacturers Association; Alabama Forestry Association; AIDT; Alabama Works; West Alabama Works; Southwest Alabama Works; Central Alabama Works; and Auburn Extension Service.

For more information, contact the UWA Division of Economic & Workforce Development. Call 1.833.UWA.WORK.

Career Pathways for Youth earn life-changing credentials

Carolyn Cartwright, CPR instructor, demonstrates the  
proper technique to perform chest compressions.

Participants in UWA's 2019 Career Pathways for Youth program earned certifications to help them reach financial stability and secure employment. 

Six participants in the Entry-Level Automotive Technician Program earned their Basic Life Support certification through the American Heart Association on Sept. 10. Basic Life Support certification includes training on how to perform CPR and instructions on how to operate an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machine. 

According to program director, Jordan Mahaffey, financial literacy is a critical skill that individuals must lean in order to reach financial independence. This year, as part of the requirements of federal funding received by the program, all participants must learn the basics of financial management.

Six participants in the Certified Nurse Aide Program completed a 10-hour online course on financial literacy earlier this month. Students learned the fundamentals of personal finance, including how to create a budget, techniques for saving money, and how to plan for retirement. 

"We want to not only provide our participants with the training they need to be successful in their future careers," Mahaffey said, "but we also want to provide opportunities for them to enhance skills that will help improve their quality of life."

For more information about these programs, contact Jordan Mahaffey at or (205) 652-3828. 

This project 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.

Community Outreach
Small business information session in Demopolis, Sept. 26

Rural Strong Alabama, a small business rural outreach event sponsored by The University of West Alabama's Small Business Development Center, will be held at the Theo Ratliff Activity Center in  Demopolis from 8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.  on Thursday, September 26. 

The event is a collaborative effort between the  U.S. Small Business Administration  and the  U.S. Department of Agriculture  Rural Development to bring business owners, lenders, economic developers, chambers of commerce, financial institutions and other resource partners (like  Alabama SBDC Network  &  Alabama PTAC ) together to discuss and explore capital access and investment programs as well as additional sources of assistance to help strengthen and grow small businesses. 
For more information, contact Yvette Zheng at or call (205) 652-5432.

Click here to view the event flyer.
Alabama Scenic Highway 17 Bicentennial Yard Sale, Oct. 4-6

Ready, Set, Go!  Communities from Chatom to Hamilton and in between along Alabama State Highway 17 are preparing for a 3-day yard sale event October 4, 5 and 6 in celebration of Alabama's 200th birthday. Officials and community leaders along Alabama's most western traveled corridor have joined together in a grass roots effort to promote West Alabama-and you're invited to join in the fun!

The "front porch to curbside" yard sale includes site stops in the downtown areas along Highway 17 and, as with a traditional yard sale, the lawns of homeowners along the historic highway route. You never know what might pop-up for sale in the 240-mile stretch covering the 6-county region, south from Washington, Choctaw, Sumter, Pickens, Lamar, and at the north, Marion.

"This is an economic and tourism development project from the combined efforts of leadership from locations up and down Highway 17, reminding people that we are here, open for business and welcome visitors to our communities," said York Mayor Gena Doggett Robbins. "The Alabama Scenic Highway 17 Bicentennial Yard Sale partnership initiative welcomes shoppers to our hometowns and downtowns, county communities and individual site locations to experience the unique things in our part of the state, while catching some great yard sale buys."

Travelers can also enjoy visiting local historic sites, museums, festivals local businesses and other points of interest as they travel to communities up and down the Scenic Highway 17.

It's not too late to participate in the event. Individuals, organizations, or businesses interested in being a part of the yard sale to complete and submit an event registration form, located at the event website, There is no fee to participate. All local, county, and state ordinances/laws that are relevant to the event are applicable. 

"We encourage anyone, including businesses or organizations wanting to participate in the yard sale to locate along the Highway 17 route, but they may certainly sell from their private locations adjacent to Highway 17. 

However, to be listed on the event website as a location, a form must be completed and submitted with verifiable information, which is available at The website will be updated regularly, including site sale locations and participation time for each county. The event can be followed on social media via "AlabamaScenic17" on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Additional information on the Alabama Bicentennial is available at

"We are rolling out the red carper for visitors to West Alabama," said Mayor Robbins. "We are excited about the Alabama Scenic Highway 17 Bicentennial Yard Sale and want to share with everyone what puts the 'sweet' in our special area of Alabama!" 

Click here for event flyer.

For information on the Scenic 17 Bicentennial Yard Sale, including updated location map, visit

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. 

Visit the official Alabama Counts Census 
website  at 

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facebook at

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 dates are September 27; and October 4, 11, 18, and 25 .  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 |