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CREATES Program Recognized for Economic Innovation

Christiansburg, Va. – Community Housing Partners (CHP) is pleased to announce the CREATES program has received a 2012 Innovator Award winner by Southern Growth Policies Board.  Innovator Awards are presented annually to one organization in each of Southern Growth’s 13 member states in recognition of initiatives and organizations that are improving economic opportunities and quality of life in the region. The 2012 Innovator Awards recognize initiatives that are successfully preparing Southerners to meet the workforce needs of a globally-competitive business sector. 

Funded by a U.S. Department of Labor “Energy Partnership Training” grant, the CREATES (Construction, Retrofitting, and Energy-Efficiency Assessment Training and Employment Systems) program provides a regional career pathways system in the energy-efficient building/retrofitting and renewable energy industries. Operating in fifteen counties in southwest Virginia, the program is a regional partnership led by Community Housing Partners (CHP), a nonprofit community development corporation, in collaboration with Virginia Tech, NewVA Corridor Technology Council, New River Community College, Wytheville Community College, Virginia Western Community College, New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Board, and the Western Virginia Workforce Development Board. 

CREATES participants begin with an assessment by a program specialist located at one of the Workforce Investment Boards, who then helps the participant establish a training plan and employment goals. After receiving a tuition stipend and completing training, participants receive employment counseling, including resume and interview preparation assistance.  Each of the three participating community colleges have developed an individual specialization in green construction, wind and solar, or energy management.  Additional training programs that lead to industry credentials are offered through CHP’s Energy Solutions Research and Training Center (formerly New River Center for Energy Research and Training (NRCERT)).

“We are very honored to have been recognized by Southern Growth for this award and feel lucky to have been part of a collaborative effort that leveraged the expertise of the workforce investment boards, community colleges, Virginia Tech, and our own New River Center for Research and Training to train over 500 participants in green construction, retrofit and alternative energy,” remarked CHP Director of Corporate Development Kimberly Strahm.  “This unique and replicable business model developed regional partnerships that will long outlast the grant term, while creating a skilled and credentialed workforce with increased opportunities in the emerging green construction and alternative energy fields.”

The awards were presented at Southern Growth's 2012 Chairman's Conference, held June 25-26 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Hosted by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, the conference examined job and workforce trends, with a view towards reimagining tomorrow’s educated worker.  

About Southern Growth Policies Board

Southern Growth Policies Board is a non-partisan public policy think tank based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. Formed by the region's governors in 1971, Southern Growth Policies Board develops and advances visionary economic development policies by providing a forum for partnership and dialog among a diverse cross-section of the region's governors, legislators, business and academic leaders and the economic- and community-development sectors. This unique public-private partnership is devoted to strengthening the South's economy and creating the highest possible quality of life.

About CREATES
The CREATES (Construction, Retrofitting, and Energy-Efficiency Assessment Training and Employment Systems) regional partnership was established to teach workers the skills required in emerging energy efficiency and renewable energy industries. It is a collaborative partnership which includes Community Housing Partners (CHP), Virginia Tech, NewVA Corridor Technology Council, New River Community College, Wytheville Community College, Virginia Western Community College, New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Board, and the Western Virginia Workforce Development Board.  Funding is provided for CREATES via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), through a U.S. Department of Labor “Energy Training Partnership” grant.