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Grant aims to help people connect with college
Chamber planning career fairs, tours of local industries and more

COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton Chamber of Commerce was one of six chambers from across the state to win a grant for helping get people to college.

The $3,000 “mini-grant” comes from the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and is designed to help chambers leverage their visibility, voice and influence in efforts to recruit more high school graduates — especially low-income graduates — to enroll in college, and to encourage more adults to return to college.

The local chamber will use the money to help play host to four resource fairs for adults interested in returning to school, centered around manufacturing career opportunities, resume and application preparation, workplace testing prep and industry and manufacturing lab tours.

“We know from research that the majority of job postings today require at least an associate’s degree,” Steve Dolinger, the president of the Georgia Partnership, said.

“We are excited to see how these six chambers of commerce use these grant funds to encourage high school students and adults to further their education.”

Ralph Staffins, the president of the Covington/Newton Chamber, said the grant will give people who are unemployed or underemployed exposure to the training they need to get a career and not just another job.

“Our hope is to continue, through this partnership, to strengthen our workforce for years to come,” Staffins said.

“The key is to get Newton County residents trained in strategic areas including manufacturing.”

Jabari Simama, the president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College, said the Partnership grant will support the ongoing work of preparing highly skilled workers in “strategic” industries.

“In partnership with the Newton Chamber of Commerce, the college will be able to deepen its impact on the education of Newton citizens and support business and industry in its need for a highly skilled workforce,” he said.

“Through our advanced manufacturing center, which is housed at our Newton campus, we can help even more students receive the training they need to pursue dynamic careers in a digital industrial world.”

Dolinger said the work done through the grant will have a positive impact on the state.

“Successfully completing high school and some form of postsecondary education will benefit individuals and their families,” he said. “These individual benefits then add to the health of the communities in which they live and ultimately accrue benefits across the state.”

Also winning grants were the Adel-Cook County, Bainbridge-Decatur County, Greater Hall County, Metter-Candler County and Walker County chambers of commerce.