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Creating better workers
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Newton County has big plans for improving its workforce in 2012, and those efforts will kick off with a workforce development summit from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., April 17 at the Newton College and Career Academy.

State leaders, including the Georgia labor commissioner and economic development recruiters, and local officials will speak about business recruitment efforts and the jobs that will accompany those businesses and how Newton County can position its workforce to take advantage of those openings.

The cost of the summit will be $25 and tickets can be purchased through the Covington-Newton County Chamber of Commerce.

The first group of panelists will feature Labor Commissioner Mark Butler, Gretchen Corbin, deputy commissioner with the Georgia Department of Economic Development and Roger Harrison, the local chamber's top economic development recruiter.

"The deputy commissioner will focus on how the state is doing on recruitment efforts - and more specifically if there has been any shift in what projects the state is seeing based on current trends in workforce," said Shannon Davis, the chamber's workforce development expert.

"Roger will speak to local targeted industries that we shoot for and give a snapshot of what we see - we'll relate it to our current trends in workforce. What can we be and what's reality?

"Commissioner Butler will speak to what the state department of labor is seeing in the workforce that is looking for jobs and more importantly how the department of labor is helping to transition those folks into jobs."

The keynote speaker will be Beth Herman, the Atlanta regional director for Manpower Staffing, a global staffing firm with an office on Conyers. Herman will speak local and regional talent shortages and mismatches. One of Newton and the Atlanta's region's challenges will be bridging the "skills gap," by making sure workers have the skills needed for today's more technologically advanced manufacturing world.

The event is being held at the Newton College and Career Academy, a key part of the county's effort to ensure local residents will be equipped to compete for jobs. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle will be on hand for the academy's grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony at 10:30 a.m.

"Through (academy officials') hard work and efforts to find out what local and regional business and industries are looking for, they have identified where we are going to see skills gaps and are aggressively seeking to fill them over the next several years. We are proud to showcase NCCA whenever possible and anticipate great things to come for the academy," Davis said.

For the full agenda of the event, go to