Regional Workforce Development LO13077
Sun, 30 Mar 1997 12:01:29 -0500

As Director of a Virginia Planning District Commission (in other areas
known as regional council, council of government/cog, planning and
development district, etc.). I am looking for any references or
information related to what I'm calling an "externalized region as public
corporation - corporate training model" for our 175,500 population/five
county-one city-14 town region.

We have a regional goal for workforce skill development. We also have a
future vision as a "Tele-Region," a term I concoted to go beyond the
Blacksburg Electronic Village - Blacksburg being 130 miles south in the
New River Planning District, another region. Since all our institutions
and businesses are small, we have networked extensively since 1985 through
our Economic Development Network.

What I'm seeing now relative to competitiveness, is that the long term
development of individuals that a corporation can make is not available to
our people because the small organizations can't afford the training
investment and may not even understand the need. An instructor at the
local Community College, who consults on training to Fortune 500
companies, said a firm he works with is designing a three year program for
teaching their Win95 choice of an office suite. Prior to that there was a
similar program for Win 3.X. The new program is built on the base of prior

Thus, the individuals can learn the power of integrated software and can
apply it to their work. In small organizations, people may be self-taught
or can only grab some education here and there. As a region, we have a
competitive disadvantage - lacking corporate training. In response, the
public and private training and education community can network resources
and make strategic investment in teaching technology - a high-end training
lab, to support the training needs; coordination in technology planning
among the k-12 school systems; libraries; community college & small/local
higher ed institutions - Shenandoah University & Christendom College; and
private sector net-oriented businesses.

It is then a public corporate strategy to network educational resources
for workforce development, individuals, companies - small and large, local
governments and public agencies, all will benefit and our region will
become competitive in the global economy regardless of the shifts in
product manufacturing, distribution, etc.

It is our region as a Learning Region - the learning scaled up and turned
inside out. Strategic investment and regional connectivity via internet
can get access to training and continuing support through user groups.
I've used AltaVista to search on "region as corporation" - 0; "corporate
region" - 14; corporate+training+strategy - 7; public+training+strategy -
0; regional+training - 3,000; and regional+workforce+training - 2. A
final search on workforce+training led met to for the State
of Illinois.

I've been reading LO posts for the last few months. I enjoy the scope of
discussion. What I'd like is referrals to articles or feedback about this
idea and similar programs which must exist. Respond to the list or
directly to me at my work address:

Thomas J. Christoffel, Executive Director
Lord Fairfax Planning District Commission
103 E. Sixth St. Front Royal, VA 22630-3499
Ph: 540-636-8800 Fx: 540-635-4147 El:
"Serving Virginia's Northern Shenandoah Valley -
A 21st Century Tele-Region"

Further background follows if you're interested.

The "regional council", "council of government" or "cog", "planning
district commission" in Virginia is: the Lord Fairfax Planning District
Commission - serving the beautiful and historic Northern Shenandoah
Valley. Our mission under the Regional Cooperation Act is to "plan and
assist our political subdivisions in planning." We are 60 miles west of
Washington, D.C. along I-66 and the region has been in a continuous
process of growth and change since the 1960's. As a rural area, it is
becoming suburbanized - and subject to gentrification.

Networking became a major tool in 1983 when the U.S Department of Housing
& Community Development(HUD) funding for local and regional planning
ended. At that point we were downsized - my boss left and I became
director at my current salary, which was then $25K compared to his $33K.
By being customer oriented and adopting computer technology(multi-user
Xenix based on TRS-Model 12/16 - not IBM-PC) to increase our productivity,
the staff of 3 has increased to seven and is producing more than when the
agency had 13 in the 1970's. As of 1985, all staff had terminals and
keyboarding was a requirement for all. In 1989 we went to SCO 386 Unix
System V, which still serves us as we move to Win95 peer network.

Personally, I have always be committed to life long learning, even before
I knew what the concept was. I've been a member of the Lord Fairfax
Community College Continuing Education Committee since 1976. At my first
meeting I asked why the College had no pc's. The State system's view then
was that the rural colleges did not need a computer curriculum. The
College board had to spend $50,000 of local money to establish their first
TRS-80 computer lab. Since our organization is small - staff of six -
with little funding and supported by local governments under significant
stress for many reasons, I have become a facilitator/networker to
accomplish our mission as stated in the Code of Virginia.

I also have my alter ego as TJCdesigns. As a planner I realized at age 30,
20 years ago, I had no plan and began looking for a personal planning
process. I found several tools and built my own method which used many of
the insights of mind mapping as I learned about it through Tony Buzan's
works. I've given it in a few workshops and to individual's over time. It
is titled "Plan-Do: Defining and Achieving Your Life Goals." It utilizes a
number of simple, but effective exercises. A key piece is the "heart map,"
which is a mind mapping approach with a different spin. Copies are
available at a small cost. E-mail/write for details.


Thomas J. Christoffel, AICP ("Tom") - email: TJCdesigns Box 1444 Front Royal, VA 22630-1444 Ph: (540)635-8582 TJC: "All life is risk management." JC: "Choose life."

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