Resource Workforce Center opens in Henrico

(From left) Hanover County Supervisor Angela Kelly-Wiecek, Fairfield District Supervisor Frank Thornton, Chesterfield County Supervisor James Holland and Resource Workforce Investment Board Chair Deborah Wickham cut a ribbon to officially open the new center.

Community leaders and elected officials from across the region gathered in eastern Henrico Sept. 24 to celebrate the opening of a new resource center for job-seekers that is the first of its kind in Central Virginia.

The Resource Workforce Center, located just off Nine Mile Road at 121 Cedar Fork Road, is the first such center inthe area to serve both adults and older youth.

Members of the federally funded Resource Workforce Investment Board, which works to increase private sector employment opportunities, joined in cutting the ribbon to mark the official opening and followed up with tours and information sessions led by center staff and community partners such as the Community College Workforce Alliance, Job Corps, Virginia Employment Commission, and Senior Connections.

"It's such a beautiful day," exulted James Holland of the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors, chairman of the resource consortium of local elected officials, as he prepared to cut the ribbon at the entrance to the center. "We're having class outside!"

In addition to serving as a one-stop job-shopping resource for the unemployed, disadvantaged adults and older youth, said Holland, the center will also assist the underemployed. "You may have a job," he noted. "But do you have a career?"

The center will help entrepreneurs as well, through a program known as resource business solutions that asks the leadership from various companies, "What do you need to expand?" Among the companies that have expressed interest in such assistance are a growing food supply company and a railroad company losing workers to retirement.

But "first and foremost," said Holland, "[the center] will offer those who come a friendly face."

Deborah Wickham, chairman of the Resource Workforce Investment Board, noted that a great deal of research has gone into locating centers where they can best serve the more than one million citizens in the area's member jurisdictions, which include the counties of Charles City, Chesterfield, Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, New Kent, Powhatan as well as the City of Richmond. One of three area workforce centers (the others are in Chesterfield County and South Richmond, with a fourth opening soon near downtown Richmond), the 20,000 square-foot center replaces one less than half its size on Williamsburg Road.

“Eastern Richmond and Henrico contain some of the highest concentrations of poverty in our region," Holland pointed out, "and so we are opening this center where it is most needed."

Representatives of various organizations began their tours in the reception area, which features kiosks for easy registration and space for one or more police officers on site. Among features of the dedicated space for youth are computer labs and stations for resume writing, as well as facilities housing the Resource Youth Network’s out-of-school program, the GOALS Institute.

The converted building, formerly a Verizon call center, also boasts a large conference room, a resource room that can be used to access the internet for job searches, and access to printers and faxes for submitting job applications and resumes. Center staff offer job seeker services such as resume reviews, skills assessment, career counseling, mock interviews, and for individuals who qualify, intensive training that may include free tuition to local educational institutions.

"It's all about connecting people with partnerships and working together," said Holland. "It will come to fruition."

Frank Thornton of the Henrico County Board of Supervisors, whose Fairfield District includes the new center, described similar visions for the site as he prepared for the ribbon-cutting. "This will be a venue of collegiality," Thornton said. "Of service to our people."

"You've heard of no wine before its time?" he asked. "Our time has arrived."

Snipping the ribbon, Holland added emphasis with a flourish and triumphantly held the scissors aloft.

"It's open!" announced Holland. "Go forth and prosper!"

For details about the Resource Workforce Center, visit http://www.ResourceVA.com.
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