Many cities offer workforce development programs, but here we do it in breakthrough style. Case in point is the Brooks Crossing Innovation & Opportunity Center (BCIOC). It’s a first-in-the-nation model of industry, municipal and higher education partnership — a physical space built to make innovation and opportunity tangible and accessible for everyone in our City.
BCIOC offers a full range of free integrated workforce services and education/training for citizens, job seekers and employers. And events like the STEM Exploration Day in October bring our community together with a purpose. STEM Exploration Day included a presence from Newport News Shipyard-HHI, QED, NASA, Virginia Peninsula Community College, Old Dominion University, Newport News Public Schools, Hampton Public Schools, New Horizons Regional Education Center and others, and over 400 youth and their families were in attendance.
BCIOC is also home to groups like the National Society of Black Engineers, that strives to stimulate STEM interest in K-12 students to encourage them to attend college and pursue technical degrees. Guide Right Youth Leadership (aka Kappa League) takes advantage of BCIOC to offer cultural exposure, leadership training and mentoring for young men ages 13-18 to help them grow into great careers that fit their skills and interests.
In addition to BCIOC, our EDA team works to connect entrepreneurs with coaching, training and connections as they build their businesses, and we help guide them towards business incentives. One group we work with is the federally funded Hampton Roads Workforce Council (HRWC). They provide strategic workforce development solutions to help local businesses find qualified workers who are looking for jobs and training opportunities to bolster their earning potential. The HRWC Veterans Employment Center completed its first full year of operation in 2022. The center connects military spouses, student veterans, transitioning service members and those who have served in the United States military with helpful resources for employment, entrepreneurship and support.
The EDA was proud to learn Fairlead Boatworks was awarded a 2022 Workforce Innovation Award from Hampton Roads Workforce Council. Fairlead created over 25 new jobs at its Seafood Industrial Park South Yard expansion and the North Yard expansion is on track for completion in 2023. This veteran-owned small business offers continued training to ensure their employees see pathways to build their careers. Fairlead takes advantage of the job training financial assistance program offered through HRWC and has used $250,000 in the 50/50 matching program.