November 18, 2015
A delegation of community leaders from Martinsville and Henry County highlighted the Center for Advanced Film Manufacturing (CAFM), and the area’s collaboration with local industry, during this year’s annual meeting of the Southeastern Council of Foundations (SECF).
The presentation titled, “Harvesting Common Good from Uncommon Ground: Responding to Industry Needs with a Collaborative Community Response,” focused on community action to provide a pool of qualified, effective employees following the 2013 announcement from Eastman Chemical to invest $40 million in Martinsville and Henry County.
Presenters included Allyson Rothrock, president of Harvest Foundation; Dr. Angeline Godwin, president of Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC); Mark Heath, president and CEO of the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation (EDC); Dr. Leanna Blevins, interim executive director of New College Institute (NCI); and Brian Miller, P.E., Utilities Division superintendent, Eastman Chemical Company.
“Sharing the story about the rapid development of the Center of Advanced Film Manufacturing in Martinsville, and the early results, is exciting for several reasons," Miller said. "It is helping a local industry be more competitive in a challenging global economy and providing opportunities for people in the community to get the skills they need to land a good paying job. I personally appreciated how Martinsville leaders worked closely together to quickly develop the concept and plan, and then effectively executed that plan. The collaboration and sense of urgency was particularly noteworthy, and this model can be copied in other communities to close skill gaps in current and future employees.”
Miller said this message resonated with the audience at this year’s SECF meeting as the time ran out during the group’s 30-minute question and answer session.
“Sharing this story will help other communities struggling with similar issues. From an Eastman perspective, we want to be engaged in the communities where we work and make a difference. It is part of who we are,” Miller said.
Rothrock said the group of presenters did an “outstanding job” presenting the CAFM model to a room of national funders.
“All communities are looking for ways to fill the workforce needs for the jobs of tomorrow,” Rothrock said. “Our model is about true collaboration – the partners are listening intently to the needs of industry and working together with them to deliver. I was as proud of my community as I have ever been. We have accomplished something through listening and taking action. The effort continues to grow and thrive and is now being shared with other communities.”
Godwin said sharing the group’s story of “true collaboration with an audience of funders who have the opportunity to positive impact their communities and their stakeholders confirmed the value of this program now and for the foreseeable future.”
The CAFM program not only allows the area to retain Eastman as a prominent employer, but it enables the business to grow and thrive, according to Blevins.
“The knowledge and skills also translate to other advanced manufacturers,” Blevins said. “We want to keep the employers we have in our area and make them as successful as possible. This is what will ultimately recruit new industries to Martinsville and Henry County.”
Blevins added that it’s important to demonstrate “we aren’t just saying buzz-words like industry-led, collaborative, stackable credentials, sustainable model, and measurable success. We are actually making it happen.”
CAFM, created through partnerships with Eastman Chemical, PHCC, NCI, and the Martinsville-Henry County EDC, prepares students for future careers in advanced film manufacturing and related industries. The Advanced Film Certification Program is a 28-credit, yearlong program offered through PHCC and NCI that provides hands-on training with state-of-the-art tools and equipment. To find out more, visit advancedfilm.org.
According to SECF’s website, more than 700 grant makers, experts and thought leaders attended this year’s meeting in Asheville, N.C., from Nov. 11-13. SECF is a membership organization of more than 360 grant makers in 11 southeastern states.
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