Seven regional site teams across the United States have been selected to participate in the Communities that Work Partnership, a new joint project of the Workforce Strategies Initiative (AspenWSI) of the Aspen Institute and the Economic Development Administration of the US Department of Commerce. The Communities that Work Partnership (CTW Partnership) is an effort to strengthen regional economies by equipping American workers with the skills needed for 21st century jobs and accelerating industry-led workforce development and training efforts.

The Arizona Commerce Authority was selected through a nationally competitive review process as one of the seven participating organizations. The regional site team, led by Sandra Watson, President & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority, will include the Arizona Technology Council and Cox Communications, represented by Steve Zylstra and Greg Ensell respectively. The selected regional team will lead job-driven talent development strategies in Arizona.

“We are honored to be selected as the lead agency on the Phoenix regional site team for the ‘Communities that Work Partnership’,” Watson said. “Arizona is nationally recognized for our innovative approach to workforce through sector partnership programs, and we look forward to leading this initiative and continuing to grow Arizona’s already impressive talent pool.”

The seven regional site teams, or regional partnerships, will begin a 15-month intensive accelerated learning exchange designed around each region’s pursuit of job-driven talent development strategies to promote economic growth. AspenWSI and FutureWorks Consulting, will facilitate the in-person and virtual learning exchanges and provide customized technical assistance by engaging national experts in economic, workforce, and talent development.

“Despite a positive growth outlook for IT jobs in Arizona, there is growing concern among local employers that the region lacks qualified workers to support future growth,” said Steven G. Zylstra, president and CEO, Arizona Technology Council. “The Arizona Technology Council is proud to be selected for the opportunity to help formulate actionable strategies aimed at closing the gap between the skills our workforce has and the skills our employers need to keep Arizona competitive.”

The CTW Partnership will culminate in a number of publications outlining systems-change progress and lessons learned among the seven regional site teams, which will be disseminated nationally in the fall of 2016. They will describe how networks of local leaders can work in new ways across traditional silos to build more effective regional workforce initiatives, and begin to influence and guide similar strategies in other communities across America.

“Cox Communications is dedicated to supporting the communities it serves, and we are very excited to participate in the AspenWSI ‘Communities that Work Partnership’,” said Greg Ensell, Manager of Government and Public Affairs for Cox Communications. “We look forward to collaborating with the Arizona Commerce Authority and the Arizona Technology Council on this project to continue growing and strengthening Arizona’s workforce.”

The CTW Partnership was launched in April 2015 at an event at the Aspen Institute that featured Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson in a dialogue over the need to learn from successful regional job-driven workforce development efforts to inform practices in other communities around the United States.

The other six regional site teams selected to participate in the Communities that Work Partnership, by Lead Agency, are:

  • Bay Area Video Coalition, City and County of San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development, CBS Corporation, Work2Future/Silicon Valley/San Jose Workforce Investment Board (San Francisco area)
  • Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Erie County Executive Office, National Grid (Buffalo-Niagara Falls area)
  • Greater Houston Partnership, San Jacinto College, United Way of Greater Houston, Gulf Coast Workforce Solutions (Greater Houston area)
  • Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, Anacostia River Initiative/Federal City Council Anacostia Waterfront Trust (Greater Washington, DC, area)
  • National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Employment Law Project, Hand in Hand (New York City)
  • Northwest Georgia Regional Workforce Partnership, J+J Flooring Group, Technical College System of Georgia, Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce (Northwest Georgia)