Federal grant to help more than 500 parents get job training, placement

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. --Better jobs and pay could soon be within arm's reach for more than 500 families in West Tennessee.

The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced it is giving a nearly $4 million grant to the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, a non-profit that encourages economic development in bioscience and sustainability.

On Tuesday, Executive Director of Grants and Compliance Fayre Crossely celebrated the federal help.

The money will go towards helping unemployed or underemployed parents get job skills training and placement along with access to transportation and child care resources.

"Children present challenges of all sorts, particularly when training is offered in the evening hours, perhaps on weekends, or if a parent has an emergency situation. They often lack complete support services to handle that," Crossley said.

Memphis Bioworks is teaming up with organizations like the Greater Memphis Chamber to get parents the skills they need to get to work.

"75 percent of the companies recruiting now are either advanced manufacturing or some sort of advanced skills. Could be IT, medical device, all those require advanced skills, could be directly supplied by this program," said President and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber Phil Trenary.

Working parent Alison Pollan told WREG she is happy with her career but believes the entire community could feel the impact of this news.

"There's a lot of people that need help in this town, and if that will do something to get parents out in the workforce and be able to help their families out, then I think that'll help our city and that'll actually in turn help the crime rate," she said.

"This influx of federal funding will help provide Memphians with the education and training they need to fill good-paying, 21st century jobs in the Mid-South while keeping their children in a safe environment," said Congressman Steve Cohen.

Memphis Bioworks said the trainings could be about six months long. Crossley said that is generally enough for an employee to get a new credential.

The grant is for parents in Shelby, Fayette, Lauderdale, and Tipton Counties over four years.

She said she hopes the federal funds will arrive in a few months.

Enrollment for the training program will begin soon. In the meantime, residents can attend an information session at Memphis Bioworks to learn more about free job training programs. Those meetings take place every Tuesday at 10 a.m. For more information, you may call 901-866-1400.