ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Leaders hope the designation will encourage economic development and help retain businesses already here.
As a business owner, Dougherty Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard knows just how valuable a qualified workforce is.
"A certified work ready force really puts us apart from many other communities," Sinyard said.
That's why he believes the county's new distinction as a certified work ready community will be a major tool for economic development.
"If you're coming to Albany, or expanding in Albany or just running a business in Albany, you can go to that pool of the certified work ready work force and pull those and put them in your workforce and you'll have someone much more prepared to do the job," said Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Catherine Glover.
To earn the designation, communities must have a certain number of people demonstrate skills in math, location information and reading for information, skills crucial to all employers. The community must also improve the public high school graduation rate.
"It really raises our level in terms of having more people, prospects visit our community. It gives us a much better chance of getting them in our town to look at us," Sinyard said.
And once those businesses are here, it gives those who have been certified as work ready an advantage too.
"Gives them a little bit of an edge over somebody else looking for the same position. It gives us an edge as a community, again to economic development and enticing business here," said Glover.
A boost in economic development, at a time when the economy needs it most of all.
Dougherty County is one of only six certified Work Ready Communities. It will receive a $10,00 grant to help maintain work ready status.