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Business support aids museum, Compact

Tom Fitzgerald

I have stated many times that workforce development is a multi-faceted process to help individuals grow and succeed in ways that benefit them individually and benefits society as a whole. I recently attended two events that I believe will have dramatic influences on our local workforce development.

These events, the Discovery Museum opening and the Community Compact, will together help improve the education of our children and their families which will have the added benefits of improving the region’s overall image.

The Terry Lee Wells Nevada Discovery Museum is a new educational amenity that I predict will have a major impact on our area. Located at 490 S. Center St. in Reno, it is another excellent example of our ever-expanding revitalization of the downtown area.

The hands-on aspect of this museum appeals not only to the children who will populate the visitors lists, it also offers great appeal to the adults who accompany the children and those who volunteer to help the organization.

With a direct tie to the Washoe County School District for specialized lab-type training, the word will soon spread about the excellent fun that workforce-oriented learning can be. Students will get so excited about their school related experiences that they will beg their parents to take them again and again after school and on weekends.

As a family-oriented tourist draw, as well as a new diversity in our economy, out-of-town visitors are sure to spread the word about the fun and enjoyment this great museum offers. Thus our local economy will benefit far beyond the 18 jobs already created by the museum.

Business owners and managers need to experience first-hand the full museum experience so they can contribute to the entire range of workforce skills demonstrated throughout the facility. With complete, comprehensive explanations of all local industries, not only will our children learn of possible careers, many adults will be surprised to learn about the tremendous diversification our local businesses offer.

And, invariably with ventures such as this, donations are always needed and can be given through business sponsored memberships to employees and their families creating fun and excitement for all while supporting a soon to be great community asset.

On Sept. 7, the Nevada Public Education Foundation released The Community Compact, a comprehensive community wide program in support of K-12 education in Washoe County “to achieve an enduring culture in our community that elevates our expectations for student success.”

It is not a new organization but “a community initiated, umbrella program that:

* Supports the goal of a high school diploma and college and career ready education for every student in Washoe County.

* Recognizes existing organizations and programs whose charters are to support Washoe County’s children, in one fashion or another, in their journey to graduate on schedule from high school.

* Emphasizes in all corners and pockets of activities within our community the importance of student academic success to our quality of life.

* Engages parents in their quest for a better life for their children.

* Promotes the countless opportunities throughout the community for individuals, students, parents, businesses, organizations to participate in programs and activities that provide assistance to students.

* Assists the district and countless organizations throughout the community in the coordination of recognition and award programs for teachers, students and other programs for superior work.

* Assists the district and countless organizations throughout the community in the identification of student, teacher, school, and district needs in providing a superior experience for student’s K-12 education.

* Assists the district in its implementation of its Strategic Plan: Envision WCSD 2015.”

Businesses can support this compact in many ways including notifying employees of program opportunities within the school district for mentoring or tutoring students or by donating surplus materials or supplies to the Education Warehouse.

This type of compact, with support from the business community, sends a strong message to all parents that we are in this together and that a well-educated child will have a much better opportunity to obtain a good-paying job in our locale as we march to the future. It also sends a positive economic development message to any company considering moving to or expanding in our region.

Our future workforce must be developed now. Excellent skill sets must be encouraged now. Our next workforce needs training now. Putting off training and support as called for in the Community Compact is not in our best interest. Aggressive support and commitment to the Compact is in everyone’s best interest.

If northern Nevadans are to break the cycle of poor graduation rates leading to low paid menial jobs with little positive future hope, then programs such as the Community Compact and the Discovery Museum must be completely supported. The future workforce must be educated in depth now and not after the fact through a federally funded organization like Nevadaworks.

These two subjects do not need federal training money. They need community support and encouragement. They need those in school to learn locally and to then stay and grow in our area. They need structural, financial and moral support from all levels of business now and into the future. Even in a difficult economic environment, businesses must support these endeavors to insure that needed, well trained individuals will be available when the economy is less challenging. Beyond financial aid, businesses have resources these subjects can use. Please offer your talents today.

Our Reno area future is for everyone. We Love This Place and must continue to show that love.

Support your future workforce. Get involved and support the Discovery Museum and the Community Compact today!

Tom Fitzgerald is chief executive officer of Nevadaworks. Contact him through http://www.nevadaworks.com