NC State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) is hosting its third ReCONNECT forum this month in Charlotte, continuing its three-year, crowdsourced initiative to identify the biggest issues facing communities of all sizes across North Carolina.
The event, ReCONNECT to Economic Opportunity, is set for October 15 at the Omni Hotel. It’s the third of six events taking place across the state until 2021. The first two forums in IEI’s ReCONNECT program were held in November 2018 and February 2019 in Asheville and Raleigh, respectively, with themes centered around community development and rural-urban collaboration.
The upcoming forum features panels and presentations from community leaders on how they’ve addressed issues related to job mobility and economic development in their areas.
Some notable names are on the agenda, including NC Governor Roy Cooper and former NC Governor James B. Hunt, among other leaders from state and local government, and public and private sector organizations.
The main program starts with a session on Charlotte’s efforts to create cross-sector partnerships and infrastructure to improve opportunity access for low-income residents. The presenters are Foundation for the Carolinas Executive VP Brian Collier and Leading on Opportunity Co-Chair James Ford.
Next, the event will highlight Tennessee Reconnect, a state initiative that promotes higher education among adults, in turn helping to improve recruitment, retention and completion rates. The speakers for this session are D. Craig Horn of the North Carolina House of Representatives (Union county) and Emily House, deputy executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation.
Another session focuses on education innovations that provide guidance and resources for non-traditional students, presented by Sarah Crawford of Single Stop, Peter Hans of the North Carolina Community College System, Andrew Kelly of the University of North Carolina System, Laura Colson McLean of the Metropolitan College of Professional Studies at Johnson C. Smith University and Mebane Rash of EducationNC.
After lunch, NC Governor Roy Cooper will deliver a keynote address, introduced by former NC Governor James B. Hunt.
Following is a session on community support networks for career advancement and job training, presented by Michelle Gethers-Clark of United Way of Greater Greensboro, Carol Hardison of Crisis Assistance Ministry, David Hollars of Centralina Workforce Development Board, Tara K. Myers of the NC Department of Health and Human Services and Travis Mitchell of UNC-TV Public Media NC.
The audience will also hear about the private sector’s perspective in promoting paths to opportunity in workforce development, from Stephen De May of Duke Energy, MC Belk Pilon of John M. Belk Endowment, Gary Salamido of NC Chamber and Jerome Williams of Novant Health.
As part of IEI’s ReCONNECT to Economic Opportunity Community Cohort program, representatives from five communities around North Carolina will share their experience operating programs that address economic opportunity.
The communities and programs to be highlighted include:
- Beaufort County, which has multiple economic opportunity initiatives under a coalition between Beaufort County Economic Development, Beaufort County Community College, Beaufort County Schools, NCWorks and the Region Q Workforce Board.
- Mecklenburg County’s Building with Our Veterans program, which pairs veterans with field and classroom training to take on roles as code officials.
- Rocky Mount’s Opportunities Industrialization Center, Inc., which provides education and skills training for jobs in advanced manufacturing, transportation, health and IT.
- Cleveland County’s Partnering for Community Prosperity and Accelerate Cleveland programs, which work to connect underemployed individuals to paid internships leading to living-wage jobs. The first Accelerate Cleveland cohort graduated in July—all participants received job offers from partner companies.
- United Way of Greater Greensboro’s Integrated Service Delivery Initiatives, which connect families to income support, education, employment, health, financial coaching and more services.
Finally, a closing talk will be delivered by Coca-Cola Consolidated VP of Culture, Engagement and Stewardship Reginald Bean.
Folks who are interested in attending can register here. Tickets are $275.