TRENTON, Jun 29, 2012 -- Technology now makes it possible for a lot of people to work from almost anywhere, as long as they have the education needed to do the job. Many companies no longer need all their employees in one location, as long as there is key infrastructure, training and support available in the rural cities and communities where their skilled workers want to live and raise their families.
Bradford Special School District and VisionGibson are helping bring these rural high-tech jobs to Gibson County residents today.
To help increase Internet-based learning and job opportunities USDA Rural Development (RD) State Director Bobby Goode today joined Gibson County Mayor Tom Witherspoon, Northwest Tennessee Development District (NWTDD) Executive Director John Bucy and other regional leaders at The VisionGibson facility in Trenton to celebrate the delivery of 35 computers for students and adult workers in the area.
The Gibson County program is guided by VisionPerry staff and based on their first Digital Factory created about two years ago. The new approach to job recruiting was one of the creative ways local business and elected leaders sought to alleviate Perry County’s high unemployment rate, which hit 24 percent in 2009.
"Instead of years trying to convince a successful technology-based company to move all its operations to one rural town, we set up a way for those companies to easily hire well trained employees who can work from home, or from a community co-working center," said Michael Dumont of VisionPerry. Staff at the Centers recruit jobs from businesses that may be located anywhere in the world. Staff also provide things like internet access, software and other support that is shared by employees working the hours they want, full or part time, for different companies.
Witherspoon heard about the success of the pilot project and has worked with Vision Perry, Bradford High School, NWTDD, USDA and local leaders to launch VisionGibson and bring these kinds of jobs and educational opportunities to Gibson County. In addition to the computer lab at the high school, a long vacant former bank building Trenton’s downtown business district has been refurbished to serve as VisionGibson’s base and as a co-working hub and technology job-training center. On June 6, staff announced that in the first six months of the Gibson county project 11 training classes had already provided new skills to job-seekers and brought in more than 50 full and part time jobs to the area.
"This is a great program that means more students and adult workers will be able to find jobs without leaving the place they grew up," said Goode. "The direct jobs are great all by themselves. Even better is the boost these workers bring to other main street businesses when workers eat and shop with local merchants."
"Just as important, many of these future tech workers trained through this program will be our community leaders of tomorrow," Goode concluded.
USDA is donating 25 laptops and 10 desktop computers to Bradford Special School District. The Hewlett Packard 6010p laptops and dc7700 and DC7100 desktops are made available through the federal Computers for Learning program that transfers surplus computers to schools and educational nonprofit programs across the nation. http://computersforlearning.gov.
Also participating in today’s event were Bradford Superintendent Dan Black, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Business Development Consultant Janna Hellums, and RD Union City Area Director Harriet Cannon.
Established in 1917, the Bradford Special School District provides PK-12 education for over 600 students. The district is rated 10 (out of 10) based on state test results by GreatSchools.org. More information on VisionPerry and the Digital Factory pilot project in Perry County is available at www.visionperry.com.
Information on NWTDD is available at www.nwtdd.org.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, community development, homeownership and affordable rental housing to improve the economic health of rural communities. During the last three years the agency has assisted at least 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 158 communities, investing more than $2.5 Billion through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in West Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Union City at 731-885-6480 ext. 4, toll free at 800-342-3149 ext. 1497 or visit us online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights,
1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795-3272