United Way of Southwest Virginia’s Regional Workforce and Child Development Hub breaks ground
October 26, 2023
Abingdon, VA (Oct. 26, 2023) – United Way of Southwest Virginia (UWSWVA) held a groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the Regional Workforce and Child Development Hub today. Governor Glenn Youngkin, First Lady of Virginia Suzanne Youngkin, and Senator Todd Pillion were in attendance, as were prominent business and community leaders from Southwest Virginia.
"Suzanne and I were pleased to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Regional Workforce and Child Development Hub, which will provide regional support and solutions for childcare, workforce readiness, and economic growth in the Southwest region,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “This hub is a testament to the power of the Commonwealth and the limitless possibilities of public-private collaboration to address critical gaps in child care. Virginia families, workers, and students will benefit from the support and opportunities this hub can provide. "
The Regional Workforce and Child Development Hub braids together multiple initiatives and grants to support today’s workforce, while also building a pipeline of talent within our youngest citizens who will eventually become working adults. Some of those initiatives include:
Shared Service Alliance will provide business coaching and back-office support such as accounting, payroll, and human resources to childcare providers throughout our region.
GO TEC Lab will be stocked with 3D printers, virtual welding, CNC machines, robotics, and similar innovative technologies to train our region’s K-12 teachers in STEM technology.
Career Commons will be a year-round workforce exploration center that provides K-12 students with hands-on career simulation to spur interest in our region’s manufacturing and STEM jobs. Alongside educators in field trips and camps, an estimated 30,000 students will visit the center annually.
An early childhood care and education center will provide 300 childcare slots and jobs for approximately 65 childcare staff.
Early Childhood Career Pathways, a teacher-training program, will educate and place at least 100 early childhood educators into jobs at childcare facilities across Southwest Virginia.
Childcare Works, an employee-sponsored childcare benefit program, is a partnership between United Way of Southwest Virginia and local employers to help offset childcare costs and increase employee retention.
“Our region needs to attract high-paying employers and we need systems in place to support that workforce,” explained Travis Staton, CEO and President of United Way of Southwest Virginia. “As far as we’re concerned, a system to support and build our workforce is as important as broadband or other types of infrastructure that support economically prosperous communities. The Regional Workforce and Childcare Hub will serve as essential infrastructure that will help young families secure high-paying jobs right here at home.”
Overall project costs are estimated to be $25 million, and so far, United Way of Southwest Virginia has raised $21.6 million. Of those monies, nearly 78% are from private sources, a trend that United Way of Southwest Virginia hopes to continue.
“This is a critical project for Southwest Virginia,” said Brendan Mcsheehy, Board Chair of UWSWVA and VP of Innovation & Intellectual Property at Universal Fiber Systems LLC. “Our communities are unique, and this project understands and embraces what makes our region special. The Regional Workforce and Child Development Hub is largely funded by people and organizations committed to this region, who love it as much as we do. This is neighbors helping neighbors, and you cannot get more Southwest Virginia than that.”
The project began taking shape in 2021 after numerous convenings of community members, educators, private/public sector leaders, and families looking to understand, and solve, a lagging economy in Southwest Virginia. Since then, it has continued to gain support and traction across public, private, and philanthropic sectors.
“As a dad, husband, and elected official, I want our region to be one of the best places to live, work, and raise a family,” said Senator Todd Pillion, whose $3.5 million state budget amendment served as a catalyst for the Hub. “The Regional Workforce and Childcare Hub has what it takes to make real and lasting change for families and businesses across the region and I am pleased to celebrate this innovative project that will serve as a model for the entire Commonwealth.”
To learn more about the project, UnitedWaySWVA.org/Hub