ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — At a time when inflation is making it hard to fill job openings, the Greater Roanoke Workforce Development Board, is ready to launch the Star City Works program — funded by the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds — to connect businesses with a skilled workforce.

In September 2021, officials say that the Star City Strong Taskforce identified funding recommendations for the ARPA money that Roanoke received, including $3 million dedicated to identifying the needs of employers in high-growth, high-potential sectors, as well as any gaps that may exist in the local workforce. In addition, the funding was encouraged to be used to align development and training programs for the unemployed, underemployed, and youth to secure the skills and credentials necessary to fill any gaps in the local workforce.

Roanoke City and the Greater Roanoke Workforce Development Board –formerly the Western Virginia Workforce Development Board — say they have agreed to administer the designated workforce funding, thus creating the Star City Works program.

According to a statement released by the city on Wednesday, July 20, activities that will be available to serve businesses and job seekers located within the Star City include funding for existing workers to receive training; funding to provide customized training to secure new employees; tuition dollars for people to attend training and education; work-based learning opportunities, including internships; on-the-job training reimbursement; and wrap-around supportive services, such as transportation, childcare, food assistance, utility/mortgage assistance, to help people complete training and employment activities.

“We are thrilled to be able to announce the new Star City Works program for residents and businesses of the City of Roanoke,” Morgan Romeo, executive director of the Greater Roanoke Workforce Development Board, said. “This initiative funded by the City of Roanoke is a great example of how local government can leverage the funding received through the ARPA programs to enhance workforce development activities. We look forward to administering the funding for the City of Roanoke and leveraging the Star City Works program with other programs within the workforce development system to provide a successful talent pipeline for businesses in our region.”

“ARPA funding is intended to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. The Mayor and City Council seek to leverage these funds to respond in a transformational manner,” said Roanoke City Manager Bob Cowell. “Few things could be more transformational than to take those in our community that find themselves unemployed and underemployed in this post-pandemic environment and equip them with the skills and training sought by employers in our community who struggle with finding a sufficient workforce. We are pleased to see this funding going to such a meaningful purpose.”

If you are a business or job seeker who is interested in learning more about the Star City Works program, you can email starcityworksva@gmail.com; call the Greater Roanoke Workforce Development Board at 540-562-8442; or follow the Greater Roanoke Workforce Development Board on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.