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County considered 'work ready community'
Graduation, attendance rates key to designation
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Forsyth County News

At a glance

Forsyth County earned the Georgia Governor’s Office of Workforce Development Certified Work Ready Community designation after increasing high school graduation rates by 10 percent and attendance rates by 2 percent over a four-year period.

Forsyth County was recently named a Certified Work Ready Community by the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development.

Forsyth was among eight counties to receive the designation, which communicates that they have the skilled workforce needed to meet business demands and drive economic growth.

Other counties honored this month included: Dawson, Butts, Clarke, Cobb, Peach and Union.

Catie Campbell, a spokeswoman for the state office, said the designation previously focused on employed workers in a community. But recently the office changed the objectives of the program to focus on up-and-coming workers.

Forsyth earned the distinction after raising high school graduation rates by 10 percent and attendance rates by 2 percent over a four-year period.

To maintain the certification, Campbell said, counties must show increases in high school attendance and graduation rates, as well as post-secondary education enrollments.

“Working on these three target areas really will strengthen Georgia’s work force,” Campbell said.

Buster Evans, superintendent of Forsyth County Schools, called the designation “phenomenal.”

“We think it reflects the lofty and high expectations and realistic expectations of our community,” he said. “We know this doesn’t just benefit us [in the school system], but it benefits the larger community and we’re thrilled.

“I think it helps us, from and education standpoint, to be even more competitive and look at the programs we do such as our STEM Academies, technology and career tech education programs, and try to align those with what really is work ready.”

Campbell said communities that earn the designation, can then apply for an Innovation Fund Grant.

“We’re looking for counties to come up with creative and effective means to target at-risk youth in their communities” and help them graduate from high school, she said.

James McCoy, president and CEO of the Cumming-Forsyth Chamber of Commerce, said the designation is a reflection of activities that have been going on in Forsyth for some time.

“We’re very fortunate as a community that for many, many, many years the entities that this program pulls together, they’ve been working together already anyway,” he said.

“I think Forsyth County is an example of a community that was doing an awful lot, if not more than, what the Work Ready certification calls for.”

Both McCoy and Evans said the achievements honored in the designation can have a strong economic impact.

“It certainly is an advantage from an economic development standpoint and one that we can wear with pride as we talk to those who are interested in locating to Forsyth County,” Evans said.

Added McCoy: “We were doing those things well before [earning the designation], which is a large part of why our unemployment rate is less than 7 percent.”