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Daily News editorial

Last week, TDN met with Northwest Innovation Works’ team of CEO Vee Godley Jr., Richard DeBolt and George Raiter, along with representatives from Lower Columbia College and Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW).

We learned NWIW has a fantastic education and hiring plan they hope to put in place to promote and help local citizens establish a career. The hiring plan would be implemented once final permits are issued for the project.

Of the approximately 200 local, permanent jobs the NWIW project would create, Godley estimates about 190 will be filled by local folks. For those 190 jobs, Godley wants to put an education and hiring plan in place to help local people have a prosperous future. About 20 jobs would be earmarked for local high school graduates. The idea being that once a selected high schooler graduates, NWIW would pay them a year-round stipend, pay for their training at LCC, and then upon successful completion of the LCC training program, offer the candidate a job.

Another 20 jobs would be targeted for local people who have “barriers to employment.” The term “barriers to employment” is the politically correct way to say folks who, for a variety of reasons, have a hard time finding a job. Candidates would apply, be interviewed by a panel, then selected for the program. The program would help them with their barrier, pay them a weekly stipend, pay for training at LCC, and then upon successful completion of the program, the individual would be offered a job at NWIW.

Sounds fantastic so far, and it gets even better.

These 40 individuals would be selected by a panel of folks approximately 24 to 36 months before the plant is set to open. LCC will be setting up a two-year training program, which will likely include some core classes from LCC’s curriculum along with specialized training for jobs at the new NWIW plant. The idea is to give candidates a basis of education along with specific job-ready skills to work at the new methanol plant. And don’t forget, they are being paid a stipend while going to school and school is paid for too.

Having a community asset like LCC is very evident when explaining this wonderful program. LCC will be able to customize the curriculum so these lucky folks come out job ready. If LCC didn’t have the ability to build this specific type of curriculum, local high school graduates and people struggling to find work might not get the opportunity.

Workforce Southwest Washington’s website explains its mission as this: WSW brings people and business together to identify the regional workforce needs of specific industries and job seekers. This public-private team works together to obtain funding and implement strategies that help companies find and hire the workers they need and help individuals get jobs or learn new skills to obtain better jobs.

WSW will play a key role in identifying folks with barriers to entering to the workforce that would benefit from NWIW’s paid education program. WSW will work with LCC and NWIW in administering the program as well.

Overall, 40 local residents are going to get the opportunity to be paid to attend a specialized LCC education and training program, the LCC program will be paid for by NWIW and graduates will have a job waiting for them. This is about as good as it gets.

But wait – like Ronco – there’s more! Other local job seekers will also have a chance to work at NWIW. If you have the skillset to fill one of the company’s roles, you will be considered as well.

The Northwest Innovation Works proposed methanol plant has the support of Gov. Jay Inslee, one of the most “green-focused” politicians in the country. This project should get its permits – without a problem.

We hope this new training program gives you another reason to support the NWIW project – we do.

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