The U. S. Department of Labor recently announced that New Jersey workers will benefit from a grant of more than $65 million. The Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development initiative, also known as WIRED, is an effort by the U.S. Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration to improve regional economies. WIRED works to integrate economic and workforce development activities and demonstrate that talent development can create economic transformation in regional economies across the United States.
The Northern New Jersey unemployment grant includes an initial award of $500,000. When a regional implementation blueprint is completed, the region will have access to an additional $4.5 million grant.
“This regional economic development strategy transcends political boundaries to better leverage a region’s assets to help workers succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy,” said Secretary Chao. “Investing in area workforces through this collaborative approach will boost entire regions’ economic vitality.”
This second generation of WIRED grants benefits a number of regions, including portions of Puerto Rico, Northern New Jersey, the Delaware Valley Tri-State Area, Southeastern Michigan, Appalachian Ohio, Southern Tennessee, Northern Alabama, Southwestern Connecticut, Southwestern Indiana, Southeastern Wisconsin, the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, the Wasatch Range in Utah, the Arkansas/Mississippi Delta, and Northern California.
The WIRED initiative for regional economic growth has already demonstrated its success. The first round of WIRED grants in 2005 awarded $195 million to 13 regions. An additional 13 regions were awarded $100,000 each to begin talent development plans. The grants are awarded competitively, involving the state’s governors.
“Strong regional economies that are built on maximizing talent and innovation will be crucial to the nation’s success in the global economy,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training Emily Stover DeRocco. “The strategies the 2nd Generation WIRED regions are using will help them deploy their education, workforce development, and economic development assets to build their competitive advantage.”