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Okefenokee Tech Officials Gain Economic Development Skills

Austin Johnson and Commissioner Vollmer

Dr. Steve Pearce, vice president of student Services at Okefenokee Technical College, and Austin Johnson, Director of Instruction, are two of 20 professionals to earn Certified Economic Developer Trainer (CEDT) status after completing a rigorous program of specialized training.  CEDT training is provided by the Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education’s (DTAE) Quick Start program for its economic development staff.  Joining an elite group of more than 100 CEDTs statewide, Dr. Pearce and Mr. Johnson can better help Ware and the surrounding counties attract new companies, while helping existing manufacturing and service industries develop a skilled workforce.

DTAE commissioner Mike Vollmer presented the CEDT certificates at a luncheon ceremony held June 8th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Macon, Georgia.

“The jobs that are here in Georgia today require much higher skills that yesterday’s jobs as manufacturing becomes more highly automated,” Vollmer said. “The purpose of the CEDT program is to provide the most current knowledge and skills in industry trends and technologies so that we ensure relevancy and consistency in the quality of business and industry training services provided by Georgia’s technical colleges and our Quick Start team.”  Vollmer challenged the graduates to train Georgia workers in the new skills that industry requires so that the workers and their families and communities, and Georgia can prosper.

Also speaking at the event was Jackie Rohosky, assistant commissioner for DTAE’s Economic Development Programs. Rohosky operates the CEDT program and leads Georgia’s Quick Start program, the state’s premier economic development training incentive.

“These graduates spent 400 to 500 hours each during this training to strengthen their skills in recruiting new companies to their communities,” she said. “They also developed competencies in developing training to improve work performance and business results. These skills are essential for serving all of Georgia’s companies — both existing and new.” Rohosky noted that Thursday’s graduates are the 11th graduating CEDT class and a new class is planned for the fall of this year.

Achieving CEDT status is required for the vice presidents of economic development at all 34 technical colleges, as well as selected staff members in the colleges’ Economic Development divisions and key Quick Start team members. During their 18 months in the program, CEDT program participants attend a series of 12 in-depth, hands-on training sessions, participate in four industry site visits to analyze operations, and complete four independent projects. The projects include developing an economic development profile for their community and completing a process analysis of a manufacturing industry.Steve Pearce and Commissioner Vollmer

Projects are evaluated and graded by the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. Partnership with this globally recognized business and management training organization assures consistent and professional evaluation of each CEDT participant’s project.

Dr. Steve Pearce has been involved in economic development efforts in the Okefenokee Technical College service area of Brantley, Bacon, Charlton, Clinch, Pierce, and Ware Counties for 6 years, working to help businesses and industries provide training for their employees. He has also been responsible for supervising the Student Services Division at Okefenokee Technical College.

Austin Johnson has been involved in economic development efforts in Alma and Bacon County through OTC for 3 years, working to move the workforce of Bacon and surrounding counties forward by offering educational opportunities at the Alma Campus. Mr. Johnson has worked as campus director on the Alma Campus for the last three years. Prior to transferring to Alma, he worked on the Waycross Campus of OTC as recruiter/admissions counselor.


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