A major announcement event was held on Thursday, March 29th to publicly unveil plans for a Comprehensive One-Stop Center. This project is a coordinated effort spearheaded by the workforce division of CMPDD, which administers Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) funded programs in the Southcentral MS Works Workforce Development Area, and Hinds Community College. The State’s Workforce Plan, developed in accordance with the federal WIOA law, calls for each of the state’s workforce areas to develop a “Sector Training Plus Comprehensive One-Stop Center”. Such a Center is defined in the Plan as one in which the workforce partners are physically co-located and providing services, and where actual training takes place.
The project will redevelop the former McRae’s/Belk department store into a center that offers the workforce-related services of the Mississippi Departments of Human Services, Rehabilitation Services and Employment Security in addition to offering on-site career technical training provided by Hinds Community College. The new center will serve as an economic development tool for central Mississippi. The Center will occupy what is currently vacant space on both floors of the southeast end of the Metrocenter Mall. The top floor will include the offices for all of the workforce partner agency staff, a Resource Room for customer use, computer labs, meeting and training space, as well as Hinds CC classroom space for training programs such as an Early Childhood Academy, Mechatronics, Robotics, Adult Basic Education, and 3D design. The bottom floor of the space will house classrooms for metal fab machining and welding, as well as an event space for hosting Career and Job Fairs and other workforce-related events. Smart Start classes and National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) testing will also be conducted at the Center.
At the announcement event, a crowd of approximately 200 heard various individuals discuss the plans for and benefits of the Center. Representatives of Hinds Community College, the Hinds County Board of Supervisors, the MS Community College Board, CMPDD, and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba all praised the efforts of this collaborative endeavor.
The project has been in the development phase for the past two years and has been a common-goal effort of many different agencies and community helpers. The Hinds County Board of Supervisors played an instrumental role in helping to fund the project by enacting a millage increase last fall.
The Announcement event was capped off with having key officials put on hard hats and use sledgehammers to smash into a wall that previously divided parts of the old department store. Once started, renovation of the space is expected to take approximately six to eight months.