SAVANNAH, Ga. - Newton County was recognized as an Economic Development Partnership community at the Georgia Economic Developers Association conference held in Savannah Sept. 19-21. The EDP designation recognizes strong partnerships between school systems, economic development, and the local business community.
The Newton County School System was just one of five systems chosen to be a part of the inaugural group to pilot the Economic Development Partnership process. The other four school systems included Marietta City, Muscogee County, Wayne County and Whitfield County.
Throughout last school year, NCSS worked with the county ED office to submit evidence showing the strong partnership between education and industry in Newton County. A team from the Georgia Department of Education visited the district in the spring and held interviews with key stakeholders; including school system staff, students, industry leaders and economic development staff. The visit was well received and the state review team highlighted several initiatives in Newton County as “best practice.” Among those highlighted were the district’s work-based learning programs, Connect Newton Educator Externship program, strong CTAE programs, and the district’s willingness to react to meet the needs of business and industry.
“Economic development and the school system go hand-in-hand,” Tim Schmitt, NCSS director of CTAE and Workforce Innovation, said. “We are lucky to live in community where conversations between the school system and industry are open and honest. I’ve worked in other districts where I couldn’t get a meeting with the economic developers in the area, but in Newton I almost feel as though I am a part of their team. That speaks volumes, if you ask me.”
NCSS Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey said, “I am incredibly proud of our partnership; our collaboration directly benefits our students, families, and community. This distinction and state-wide recognition signals to business and industry leaders that our community is well-equipped to support their efforts. I am thrilled that we are able to contribute to economic development and look forward to our future teamwork.
State school superintendent Richard Woods and Kevin Shea, GEDA president, honored Newton County and the four other pilot school districts on the final day of the annual GEDA conference. The school system and Newton’s Economic Development office jointly accepted the honor on behalf of Newton County.
“Three years ago the idea/framework for the EDP was developed right here in Newton County, when Matt Gambill, CTAE Department of Education and I met for lunch discussing workforce development gaps in the state of Georgia," David Bernd, vice president of economic development said. "Matt and his team quickly understood the opportunities that were in front of us. As the saying goes ‘the rest is history.’
“The incredible partnerships developed, not only here in Newton County, but the four other Georgia Communities being recognized, are a testament to what can be accomplished when Industry/School Districts and Economic Development Organizations work together to provide opportunities not only for our students, but also to start to close the workforce shortage we are experiencing.”
For more information, contact Dr. Tim Schmitt, Director of CTAE and Workforce Innovation for Newton County Schools, at firstname.lastname@example.org.