DED announces 20 counties under review process for Certified Work Ready Community designation

July 17, 2013

JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) has announced that 20 counties are working towards becoming designated Missouri Certified Work Ready Communities. Thirteen other counties began the review process toward that designation in January.

The Certified Work Ready Communities program is a voluntary initiative designed to strengthen local economies and give counties a competitive advantage in attracting businesses and new jobs. It is lead by community leaders and links workforce development to education; aligns economic development needs of communities; matches appropriate applicants to jobs based on skill levels; and strengthens and grows businesses. 

“Businesses demand a talented and well-trained workforce,” said Mike Downing, Acting Director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED). “Applying for this designation is evidence of the counties’ commitment to reaching education, workforce, and economic development goals that make their communities a desirable place for companies looking to expand or relocate.”

The counties – Barry, Barton, Boone, Chariton, Cole, Cooper, Gasconade, Greene, Grundy, Howard, Laclede, Lawrence, Livingston, Moniteau, Monroe, Newton, Phelps, Randolph. Vernon and Washington – have 24 months to achieve certification status. They join round one counties Adair, Butler, Cape Girardeau, Clay, Franklin, Henry, Howell, Jefferson, Linn, Pettis, Ripley, Saline and St. Francois counties in working toward this designation. Those counties were approved in January.

Jasper County is not only the lone county in the state to achieve Certified Work Ready Community designation, but it is the first in the nation.
Earning Certified Work Ready Community status assures that local workforces have the talent necessary to staff existing jobs and master innovative technologies jobs of the future will require. Each designated community must gather local support and commitment and apply for the Work Ready Community designation. To earn certification, counties will have to meet established criteria in three specific areas:

•    Demonstrated leadership by key stakeholders
•    National Career Readiness Certificate  attainment in emerging, transitional and current workforce
•    Employer/business support

Developed by ACT, which is known for its college admission tests and workforce training programs, the designation is conferred by the Missouri Workforce Investment Board (MoWIB) and is based on criteria established by the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC) and ACT. Other states participating in the program include Michigan North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Virginia, Utah and Wyoming.

Deadline for applications for the next review cycle is November 1, 2013. For more information about the criteria and how to apply for certification, go to

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