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  • Wilkes-Barre Connect Awarded $100,000 Grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission for NEPA Works

    Wilkes-Barre, PA - Wilkes-Barre Connect – the entrepreneurial and economic development arm of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber – is proud to announce a grant award, in the amount of $100,000, from the Appalachian Regional Commission, for the NEPA Works Project. The NEPA Works Project is a pilot program designed to upskill and train our workforce for the new economy, while simultaneously promoting the public workforce system to enhance communications between job seekers and job providers, through the integration of new technology.
    “Everyone deserves the dignity of a good-paying job,” said Rep. Cartwright. “During this time of crisis, federal funding that helps prepare people for new jobs and enables them to earn a living and support their families and will help restore economic opportunity in our region. I applaud Joseph A. Boylan and Wilkes-Barre Connect for all their hard work and dedication to improving their communities.”
    “The NEPA Works Project will enable our region to meet the demands of an evolving economy,” said Rep. Meuser. “I am pleased this grant will bring together community partners, including the private sector, to meet workforce development needs while providing STEM education across Northeast Pennsylvania.”
    Wilkes-Barre Connect, in collaboration with the Institute of Public Policy and Economic Development, conducted months of research, examining current and future industry trends. This research evolved into the NEPA Works Project, developed in a partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (PA DCED). Impacts resulting from the NEPA Works Project will help identify pathways to replicate models in other communities across Pennsylvania.
    NEPA Works will reimagine the future of Northeastern Pennsylvania, through two components: “Reimagining our Workforce” and “Coding the Coal Region.”
    “Reimaging our Workforce” is the launch of a communication strategy to promote the public workforce system. Partnering with local workforce leaders, this strategy will feature two primary goals: increase user activity and increase job placement rates, through the integration of technology.
    “Coding the Coal Region” is a project to increase the computer programming skills in Northeast PA. This initiative provides individuals the opportunity to access training and certification modules to meet the immediate workforce needs of the computer programming industry in Northeast PA. In addition, Coding the Coal Region will help establish a long-term strategy by providing students with access to computer programming courses – establishing pathways for web development, graphic design, and game development interests.
    Both components of the NEPA Works Project will be 12-month pilot programs that will measure impact specifically in Luzerne County and provide a model for other communities in Pennsylvania to replicate. Most importantly, the NEPA Works Project comes during our region’s greatest time of need. The NEPA Works Project components will act as a resource to assist residents in Luzerne County return to the workforce, helping our community get back on their feet.
    “Wilkes-Barre Connect is continually looking forward and mapping out the next steps here in Northeastern Pennsylvania," said Luzerne County Manager David Pedri. "I’m excited to see where the NEPA Works project will lead us.”
    NEPA Works will launch July 1, 2020, and run until June 30, 2021, and feature several partnerships among non-profits, academic institutions, and entrepreneurs. More information on the project can be found at www.NEPAworksProject.com.
    “We are thankful for the opportunity provided by the Appalachian Regional Commission,” said Joseph Boylan, Executive Director of Wilkes-Barre Connect. “NEPA Works provides us with the opportunity to partner with amazing academic, business, and community leaders to develop the future workforce of Northeastern Pennsylvania.”
    “Now more than ever, and certainly as we come out of this crisis facing a ‘new norm’, we must re-imagine the workplace, the workforce, and our business models”, said Wico van Genderen, President and CEO, Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Business and Industry. “NEPA Works encompasses what will make NEPA work and what will optimize our future workforce to grow strong, family sustaining jobs in Northeastern Pennsylvania”.

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