Board Spotlight: Addressing Workforce Challenges Collaboratively Across State Political Boundaries


By: Chelsea Robertson, Executive Director, Southern Tier Regional Central Regional Planning & Development Board

Two small rural LDD’s located in Northern Appalachia were successful in obtaining a $4.5 million grant from ARC’s ARISE program to provide new and innovative workforce initiatives as a two state partnership. The Twin Tiers ARISE program (TTAP) consist of a total of 8 counties that fall on the southern tier of New York and northern tier of Pennsylvania. Southern Tier Central Regional Planning & Development Board (STC) and Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission (NT) began working on this partnership to address regional workforce issues during COVID, but the ARISE money provided the funding necessary to pull together the region’s additional 4 partners and to devise a workforce strategy to address the declining youth workforce participation rates and to capitalize on the region’s commutation patterns.

Commutation Map of the TTAP Region        Current Youth Workforce Participation Rates

This $4.5 million dollar grant was matched with an additional $4.5 million of in-kind service donation from a total of six strategic partners. Direct collaboration among partners will maximize the value of existing services and training provided by current partners. Coordinated action is necessary to remove training/participation barriers and strengthen the engagement between training providers and potential workforce participants. Northern Tier Regional Planning and Development Commission will lead collaborative efforts between the region’s TTAP workforce partners:  the Business Education Partnership (BEP) program in PA, GST BOCES, Career Development Council, Corning Community College and CSS Workforce NY programs in NY.  While  Southern Tier Central Regional Development Board will manage many aspects of the projects data analytics, administration, and reporting.  Organizations involved in the newly-funded Twin Tiers ARISE Program can help young people find well-paying employment.  The Twin Tiers ARISE Program will work with employers: businesses, non-profits, and governments to engage the youth workforce.

“Thanks to support from the Biden-Harris Administration, ARC’s ARISE grants are making transformational, cross-boundary impacts on our Appalachian states,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “The work of our newest ARISE grantees will help boost workforce opportunities across the region by providing integral job training in growing career fields, which in turn will allow Appalachia to compete economically on a national and global level.” By working together, these six organizations will be able to tap into additional training and career exploration opportunities. Over the next 5 years, this program will be able to serve thousands of young people who may not have experienced youth-workforce collaboration opportunities.  TTAP will create greater connections with the region’s employers and TTAP partners will enhance the services offered the region’s youth. By 2029, about 400 new individuals will be employed in the region who otherwise might not have joined the workforce.