What will it take to bring more manufacturing jobs back to Adair and Russell counties? A qualified and skilled workforce, according to Chester Taylor, a member of the Columbia-Adair Economic Development Authority and former vocational school principal.
Taylor spoke Tuesday at the Columbia-Adair County Chamber of Commerce’s March meeting, and used an analogy about his love of strawberries to make his point. Taylor said that as much as he enjoys the fruit, that’s not what he used to fish, because fish don’t eat strawberries.
“We’ve got to fish with the right kind of bait,” Taylor said, “and show the manufacturing people what we do have. This [school] is the bait.”
What we have, “we” being Adair and Russell counties, according to Taylor, is a state of the art education center, the new Lake Cumberland Regional College and Workforce Center (located right beside Russell County High School). The LCRCWC, an $11 million facility, provides students in both counties the skills and resources they’ll need to land manufacturing jobs, and – more importantly – offers an incentive to manufacturing companies to locate to the area.
“That’s a result of us changing our attitude as to what we’re teaching and what we’re offering to the manufacturing companies,” Taylor said.
Taylor said that Bruss North America chose Russell County over Washington County for its operation “because of what’s being taught” in the community. He said that students who successfully navigate the vocational program are “hired almost immediately.”
Taylor summarized his presentation by stressing that his goal was to show everything the LCRCWC has to offer, not only to Russell County students but to Adair County students as well, and how this vocational education can be catered to manufacturing jobs for both counties.