Federal officials visit site of new workforce development center in Cobb

Center is set to open July 2024
U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff and U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo meet with Cobb County officials on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, at the site of the new workforce development center coming to Mableton. (Taylor Croft/taylor.croft@ajc.com)

Credit: Taylor Croft

Credit: Taylor Croft

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff and U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo meet with Cobb County officials on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, at the site of the new workforce development center coming to Mableton. (Taylor Croft/taylor.croft@ajc.com)

U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff and U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo on Thursday visited the site of the new workforce development center underway in Mableton, funded in part through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

“Infrastructure upgrades that are happening across the state of Georgia, because of the most significant infrastructure plans since the Eisenhower administration, all of the manufacturing jobs and investment that are coming to the state now because of manufacturing incentives that we passed in Congress, all of this depends upon having a skilled workforce and empowering workers here in Cobb and across the state to take advantage of these new career opportunities,” Ossoff said.

U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff (left) talks to Bryan Pickens, the senior project manager with MAPP Construction to renovate the old fire station into a new workforce development center on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024, in Mableton. (Taylor Croft/taylor.croft@ajc.com)

Credit: Taylor Croft

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Credit: Taylor Croft

The workforce development center will be run by CobbWorks and will provide training, resources and services for job seekers and businesses. It will include free access to a computer lab, assistance with job searching, workshops, literacy services, employment placement, and support for skills training. Cobb County designated $2.8 million in ARPA funds for the project and also donated an old fire station to be renovated for the building. It’s expected to be complete and open this summer, officials said. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $4 million.

A new workforce development center is underway in Mableton, as shown in this rendering. Provided by CobbWorks

Credit: Provided by CobbWorks

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Credit: Provided by CobbWorks

Adeyemo said the aim of the federal funds is to help those who have previously been shut out of the workforce due to lack of access to job training and opportunities.

“As part of the Inflation Reduction Act, we’ve seen 33 projects be announced here in Georgia, where companies are investing money, billions of dollars of capital, but they’re going to need workers,” Adeyemo said. “And we want to make sure that people who have been left out, left behind for too long, have the skills to be able to get those jobs.”

Cobb County Chairwoman Lisa Cupid said Mableton was chosen as the location for the workforce center because that area has the greatest need for the service. She hopes to decentralize services like these throughout the entire county. The Northeast Cobb Community Center underway at the site of Gritters Library will also include a new work training center as part of that effort, also partially funded through ARPA dollars.

“When I came in as a commissioner, and looking at data across the district, I saw that this was an area that was underserved by way of giving an opportunity for people to move ahead,” Cupid said. “We’re really talking about equity here.”

Of the $98 million in ARPA funds Cobb County delegated out to businesses, government departments and nonprofits, $21.5 million was directed toward economic development initiatives.

Mableton Mayor Michael Owens said the workforce center will help the new city grow and attract new businesses.

“When companies look to move into areas, they look at the workforce,” Owens said. “This helps to be able to define a strong workforce going forward and in the future.”