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Economic development group awarded $4M for HR talent portal

The Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corp. is leading an effort to build a center that will help service members, military spouses and veterans find jobs.


The Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corp. and the Community Development Foundation plan to use $4 million in federal funds to build an HR center that will help service members, military spouses and veterans find jobs.

The corporation announced the project this week. The facility is expected to help recruit companies to Fayetteville, Cumberland County and the state.

“Such a facility would fill a great need. Approximately 7,000 service members transition to the private sector from Fort Bragg every year, and approximately 26,000 active military spouses live on or near Fort Bragg,” the release said. “Only 19% of those report adequate full-time employment. Additionally, more than 130,000 veterans live in the region surrounding Fort Bragg.”

Rob Patton, the executive vice president of the Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corp., said in an interview Friday that the brick-and-mortar building will be approximately 20,000 to 40,000 square feet, which would allow space for offices and training areas. Though they have not pinpointed the exact location, he said, the HR talent portal will be built in close proximity to Fort Bragg.

Patton likened the $4 million to seed money for the project.

“There will be additional costs when we program maintenance for the building,” he said. “It’s hard to estimate costs these days. It will be north of $4 million. I would not be surprised if it hit $10 million to $12 million.’’

At this time, Patton said, they don’t know where any additional funding would come from.

“We’re still talking strategies on additional funding,” he said. “We do know we’ll have to have additional funding. We’re not ready to talk where the additional funds come from.”

He anticipates the facility will be up and running “sometime in 2023, we’re probably looking at. Could we be more aggressive? Possibly.”

Currently, companies can begin training transitioning soldiers at the Career Skills Training Site, according to the corporation. The HR talent portal would exponentially expand the work being done, accommodate a backlog of inquiries from companies interested in building public-private partnerships, and boost employment in the area.

The HR talent portal, the corporation said in the release, would substantially increase private-sector hiring of military members, as well as support the employment of military spouses, connect veterans to career opportunities and encourage companies to establish a presence in North Carolina. That would be due to “a steady pipeline of workers possessing the skills, traits and certifications especially desired by today’s leading companies."

The HR talent portal would include space for companies or corporations on a full-time or part-time basis.

“Service members will go through and see recruiters,” Patton said. “We’ll get them in and set them up with job interviews. We’ll have space for companies to have training facilities. The conceptual piece of this is that recruiters will recruit, and trainers will train the talent. Now a veteran has a job and is working to prevent unemployment.”

According to Patton, one-third of the service members who transition out of the military and into the civilian sector have said they would stay in this area if they had a good-paying, meaningful job. Another third will remain in this area while another one-third will leave.

“That’s what we’re trying to solve with the HR talent portal,” he said. “We want to attract companies here because of the talent. So many talented people don’t stay in our area.”

The corporation said in the release that Sen. Thom Tillis was instrumental in helping secure the funding for the project through the Senate Committee on Appropriations. Support also came from Sen. Richard Burr and the North Carolina delegation, the release said.

“Our service members at Fort Bragg develop a toolbox of critical leadership skills while serving our nation in uniform, and the community of Fayetteville has shown a commitment to ensuring they have a successful transition back to civilian life,’’ Tillis said in the release. “I was proud to work with local Fayetteville leaders on the funding request for the HR talent portal project, and I’m excited to see the opportunities it creates for our transitioning service members, veterans and military spouses by providing them with the education and training needed to start their new careers.”

Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin said in the release that the city is grateful to Tillis, Burr and the delegation for supporting the initiative.

“Our military families need workforce opportunities, and our employers want a pipeline of qualified applicants,” he said. “The proposed facility and programming will attract and encourage those transitioning from the military to make Fayetteville and Cumberland County their permanent home. This is a huge win for our community.”

Glenn Adams, chairman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, said the facility has already generated interest from dozens of technology companies, military contractors and private-sector employers “seeking access to this powerful talent pipeline.’’

“We’re thrilled to see this project begin to take shape,” Adams said in the release. “Our goal is to continue to support, develop, and grow additional training and educational opportunities for our workforce.”

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, Cumberland County, Fayetteville Cumberland Economic Development Corp., transitioning service member, military spouses, veterans, workforce