USCOG Workforce Area Receives Federal Funding to Help Job Seekers, Businesses

The Upper Savannah COG is one of nine organizations nationwide to receive U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) funding to help provide training and employment services for job seekers as the economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic’s impacts.

USCOG’s workforce development staff applied for the funding on behalf of a consortium of five workforce development areas across the state. Upper Savannah is the lead applicant.

The consortium receiving the funds includes Upper Savannah: Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Newberry and Saluda counties; Upstate: Cherokee, Spartanburg and Union counties; Low Country: Beaufort, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties; Pee Dee: Chesterfield, Marlboro, Darlington, Florence, Dillon and Marion counties; and Lower Savannah: Aiken Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Calhoun and Orangeburg counties.

Together, the five areas had more than 100,000 claimants exhaust unemployment insurance (UI). As of July 2021, South Carolina no longer provided Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

The funding will be used to help reach those who have exhausted their UI and need re-employment.

“South Carolina had a substantial reduction in WOIA (Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act) funding,” Upper Savannah Workforce Development Director Ann Skinner said. “The five Workforce Boards anticipate needing funding to respond to the recovery.”

Skinner said workforce development staffs have not been able to reach dislocated workers as well as they have before the pandemic.

“Traditionally, we have responded to events such as plant closings and provided an orientation and offered on-site services. During the pandemic, workers were laid off without notice. Many were fearful of going to an SC Works Center to do job searches (due to the pandemic). We need to have a systematic way of reaching those who are at risk of not returning to work. We will use funding to conduct outreach and develop On-the-Job training contracts.”

Long-term UI claimants are less marketable because they do not have a consistent work history, Skinner said.

“Many have been without health insurance benefits while unemployed. They are now without income support and may need help accessing services,” she said.

The Upper Savannah Area has faced many challenges, including preparing for the closing of the Fuji plant which will result in the loss of 400 jobs by 2022.

Skinner said these aren’t normal times.

“There is unprecedented need at this time for workforce services,” she said. “Employers are rebuilding their workforce following the pandemic. Job seekers are struggling to find jobs which pay as much as the pandemic unemployment benefits paid.

“South Carolina is using CARES funding to offer free tuition for short-term community college programs. Traffic in SC Works Centers dipped during the pandemic and has not yet returned to normal. We plan to engage in outreach to get customers to Centers and alert them to opportunities.”

Assisting the unemployed includes starting with individual assessment and career planning. The goal is to build on clients’ existing skills.

“We will conduct targeted job development to create On-the-Job Training (OJT) opportunities. It is anticipated that significant staff support will be needed to help clients develop soft skills. We will offer supportive services (transportation, dependent care, medical and work clothing). Utilizing OJT will align training with employer needs and provide immediate income support for dislocated workers,” Skinner said.

All five areas operate formula dislocated worker programs and connect with partners as part of the SC Works system, she said. This grant will build on those connections.

USCOG plans on developing videos that will serve as an orientation to dislocated worker services. The video will be placed on YouTube and have links on Local Workforce Boards’ websites. A portion of the video will be generic to South Carolina, but it will be customized for the five areas, she said. Other videos might cover identifying transferable skills and labor market information.

Another plan involves crafting social media campaigns that can be used by all five workforce areas, focusing on getting the job seeker a higher wage and information about skill training. Specialized messages will be offered to high school dropouts and offenders.

Another goal is to get mailing addresses for all individuals who were in the job matching database the week before UI ended. Staffs will send a postcard to each of the approximately 120,000 individuals.

The strategies to be used with the DOL grant funding was crafted by five workforce administrators with more than 100 years experience. OJT was selected as the primary tool to get workers back on the job because income support is built in.

The grant funding will help local businesses as well as job seekers. OJT reimburses employers 50 – 75 percent of new hire wages.

Businesses inquiring about training reimbursement should contact USCOG Deputy Workforce Development Director Billy Morgan at 864 941-8071. Job seekers should contact the Greenwood County SC Works Center at 864 229-8872.

News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

Localities Can Apply for “Investing in America’s Communities” Funding

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo today announced six programs, collectively called Investing in America’s Communities, that the Economic Development Administration (EDA) will execute to equitably invest the $3 billion it received from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

Contact Upper Savannah COG for assistance with any potential application of any relevant projects. Contact USCOG Economic Recovery Specialist Cason Wright at (864) 941-8065 or cwright@uppersavannah.com for additional information.

According to an EDA news release today, Investing in America’s Communities includes:

Build Back Better Regional Challenge ($1 billion) will capitalize on American ingenuity and American workers by providing a transformational investment to regions across the country to revitalize their economies.

Good Jobs Challenge ($500 million) is designed to help get Americans back in good-paying jobs. The program will develop and strengthen regional workforce training systems and sector-based partnerships with a focus on programs targeted at women, people of color and historically underserved communities.

Economic Adjustment Assistance ($500 million) grants will help hundreds of communities across the nation plan, build, innovate, and put people back to work through projects tailored to meet local needs.

Indigenous Communities ($100 million) program will work hand-in-hand with Tribal Governments and Indigenous communities to develop and execute economic development projects they need to recover from the pandemic and build economies for the future.

Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation ($750 million) program will focus on revitalizing the hard-hit travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation industries and accelerate the recovery of communities that rely on these sectors.

Statewide Planning, Research and Networks ($90 million) grants include funding for state planning efforts as well as grants to build Communities of Practice to extend technical assistance to support EDA’s work with grantees.

To learn more about EDA and the American Rescue Plan Funding Opportunities, sign up for the EDA 101 and America Rescue Plan Overview webinar, which will be held on July 27 and July 29.

For more information, visit www.eda.gov/ARPA for the latest news on EDA’s implementation plans.

Greenwood County Begins Transit Agreement; Other USCOG Counties Exploring Options

Greenwood County residents living within a 2.5-mile radius of the County Courthouse now have a new transportation option.
Public transportation service is available to anyone of any age within the service area for a fee. Approved trips include medical/doctor’s appointments, grocery stores, and pharmacy visits. Trips must be reviewed and approved at least one day before travel.
Greenwood County has contracted with McCormick Area Transit (MAT) to provide transit services.
A ribbon cutting (pictured here) was held July 19 at the Greenwood County Courthouse to commemorate launching of the services which began July 1, 2021. S.C. Department of Transportation (SCDOT) Secretary Christy Hall, Third District SCDOT Commissioner Pamela Christopher, and members of Greenwood County Council, Greenwood City Council, Greenwood SC Chamber of Commerce, and MAT were among those who participated in the ribbon cutting.
Transportation discussions with Greenwood County, MAT, SCDOT, Upper Savannah COG, the health care community and other stakeholders have been ongoing for quite some time.
“After many years of review and discussion, I’m glad to see Greenwood County take this important step,” said USCOG Government Services Director Rick Green, who has helped host some of these meetings.
“I would eventually like for coverage to be extended county-wide and for new public transit opportunities to be developed in other USCOG counties,” Green said.
SCDOT will contribute $150,000 into the transportation agreement each year for three years. Greenwood County must match DOT’s contribution with $150,000 each year.
USCOG has recommended to the SCDOT Commission approval of two additional vans for MAT to use for this expanded service.
Abbeville County is awaiting news on a potential federal transit grant that would help it begin to develop a transit system there. USCOG has also applied for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) COVID related assistance funds to provide temporary transit service in Saluda County. Abbeville, Laurens, and Saluda remain among the last six counties in the state without public transit availability.
To request a ride or for more information Contact MAT at: Greenwood (864) 538-4500 or McCormick (864) 852-6655 or e-mail at mattrans@mcsc-mat.org.
News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

USCOG Workforce Division Accepting Incumbent Worker Training Grant Applications

The Upper Savannah Council of Governments Workforce Development Division is now accepting applications for Incumbent Worker Training (IWT) grants which help provide training needed in current businesses due to expansion, new technology, retooling, new services/product lines and new organizational structuring, or as part of a layoff aversion strategy.
IWT may also fund training in new businesses if those jobs are ineligible for assistance through ReadySC. However, there will be a 120-day waiting period for new or expanding businesses that displaced workers elsewhere in the United States.
A total of $54,000 is available through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) for businesses in the counties of Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Newberry and Saluda. Businesses applying for funding must have at least one full-time employee (on the payroll a minimum of six months) and be current on all state tax obligations. Training entities, city, county and state governments are ineligible to apply.
The Upper Savannah Workforce Board will use the funds to help workers earn a credential or receive training that will yield a promotion and/or higher wages. This will benefit the employer by helping them with hard to fill positions. The promotion will create a lower-level vacancy that Upper Savannah can help backfill.
The Board will set the minimum request at $5,000 and the maximum at $20,000 per business and give priority to manufacturing, healthcare and trades (electricians, carpenters, plumbers, etc.) occupations.
Business must provide a matching contribution to the training project that shall not be less than:
10% of the cost, for employers with 49 employees or less;
25% of the cost, for employers with between 50 -100 employees; and
50% of the cost, for employers with more than 100 employees.
USCOG will contract with the selected business to write an agreement for the training. Costs will be reimbursed after the business provides the training services specified in the contract and completes all required paperwork. Reimbursable training expenses include instructor/trainer salaries, textbooks/manuals, and consumable materials/supplies. Routine or periodic safety and/or refresher courses cannot be funded. The salaries of in-house instructors are not reimbursable. The grant cannot pay for travel for the trainer or trainees or trainee wages.
All applications will be reviewed by a committee comprised of members of the Upper Savannah SC Works Business Services Team and the Workforce Development Board.
The application deadline is Tuesday, June 15, 2021 at 5 p.m. Applications submitted after this date will be held for consideration in the future, if funding becomes available. Applications should be submitted to work@uppersavannah.com, fax to 864.941.8090 or mailed to:
Upper Savannah Workforce Development Division
Attn: Billy Morgan
430 Helix Road
Greenwood, SC 29646
IWT Grant ends on June 30, 2022. Grant funds will be obligated by July 31, 2021.
To request a copy of the application, contact Upper Savannah workforce staff at (864) 941-8050 or bmorgan@uppersavannah.com. The application and additional information can be found on the Upper Savannah SC Works website at: https://upperscworks.com/employers/
News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

USCOG Workforce Staff Produces Employment Directory for High School Seniors

High school seniors in the Upper Savannah Workforce Area will soon be learning who might hire them and what kind of training is available as they take the “next step” after graduation.

Upper Savannah workforce staff created a “Your Next Step After Graduation” directory of employers who hire recent high school graduates and are distributing to all graduating seniors at public high schools in the Upper Savannah Workforce Area.

The Area includes Abbeville (112 seniors), Dixie (68), Strom Thurmond (175), Emerald (179), Greenwood (309), Ninety Six (106), Ware Shoals (59), Laurens (307), Clinton (192), McCormick (45), Mid-Carolina (175), Newberry (134), Whitmire (51) and Saluda (126) high schools. There are more than 2,000 Area graduates in the Class of 2021.

The directory includes an alphabetical listing of approximately 100 companies in the Area which responded to a survey indicating they hire current high school students and recent graduates. The directory includes additional information such as website addresses and whether they offer flexible hours, tuition reimbursement, etc.

“The state of South Carolina wanted us to engage with high school students because that is untapped talent for employers who are screaming that they need people,” said Upper Savannah Workforce Development Deputy Director Billy Morgan, who played a major role in production of the directory.

“Not every high school student is going straight to college, and people who are going to college are looking for part-time jobs or jobs with flexible schedules so they can go to school at the same time.”

The directory funded by an S.C. Workforce Development Board grant also provides information about training opportunities and assistance available for several health care programs to automotive technology, mechatronics, HVAC and welding, and several others.

The directory also includes encouraging tidbits for seniors making that next step, stressing the importance of an up-to-date resume, a good phone number, and a professional e-mail address.

The directory also includes quotes about the importance of putting forth effort, being punctual, showing the willingness to learn, and exhibiting good work ethic.

The directory also shares several interview tips that stress strong communication skills needed to land a good job.

Another page is filled with helpful tips for graduates such as not making an education or career choice based on what friends are doing, never passing up an opportunity to meet someone new, and making time to look for part-time jobs, internships or volunteer opportunities.

News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

American Rescue Plan Expected to Bring Approximately $68.56 Million to USCOG Region

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is a $1.9 trillion emergency relief bill, providing approximately $350 billion to states, territories, tribes, counties and municipalities to respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency, offset revenue losses, bolster economic recovery and provide premium pay for essential workers.

The Act will provide approximately $42.6 million to the six counties in the Upper Savannah Region and approximately $25,960,000 to the Region’s 24 cities and towns, according to published reports.

The U.S. Department of Treasury is expected to release definitive guidance on how the funds may be spent. However, there is no timeline on when that guidance will be released according to the Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC).

MASC strongly recommends cities and towns refrain from spending any funds they receive until that guidance is released. Spending the funds on unauthorized uses could result in a city or town having to repay those funds to the federal government. The same would apply to counties.

Initial estimates have been released. However, they cannot be relied upon as Treasury is still working to finalize the distribution amounts. The Municipal Association recommends not using any of the estimates that are circulating for planning purposes.

Funding will be distributed in two tranches. The first tranche will be distributed within 60 days of enactment of the law, and the second tranche will be distributed 12 months after the first is paid.

The funds may be used to:

  • Respond to the COVID-19 public health emergency or its negative economic impacts, including assistance to households, small businesses, and nonprofits, or aid to impacted industries such as tourism, travel, and hospitality.
  • Respond to workers performing essential work during the COVID-19 public health emergency by providing premium pay to eligible workers that are performing such essential work, or by providing grants to eligible employers that have eligible workers who perform essential work.
  • Provide government services to the extent of the reduction in revenue due to the COVID-19 public health emergency relative to revenues collected in the most recent full fiscal year prior to the emergency.
  • Make necessary investments in water, sewer or broadband infrastructure.

 

American Rescue Plan Local Allocation Estimates*

Abbeville County 4.76 million
City of Abbeville 1.87 million
Town of Calhoun Falls 710,000
Town of Donalds 120,000
Town of Due West 450,000
Town of Lowndesville 40,000
   
Edgefield County                                                 5.29 million
Town of Edgefield 1.8 million
Town of Johnston 890,000
Town of Trenton 70,000
   
Greenwood County 13.73 million
City of Greenwood 8.74 million
Town of Hodges 60,000
Town of Ninety Six 760,000
Town of Troy 40,000
Town of Ware Shoals 800,000
   
Laurens County                                                   13.09 million
City of Clinton 3.13 million
Town of Cross Hill 190,000
Town of Gray Court 310,000
City of Laurens 3.31 million
Town of Waterloo 60,000
   
McCormick County                                             1.84 million
Town of McCormick 880,000
Town of Parksville 40,000
Town of Plum Branch 30,000
   
Saluda County                                                       3.97 million
Town of Ridge Spring 280,000
Town of Saluda 1.35 million
Town of Ward 30,000

* Allocation Estimates provided by Municipal Association of SC website

News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

Upper Savannah Region Receives Federal Grant to Train EMTs, Paramedics

Upper Savannah workforce development staff recently learned there is a shortage of emergency medical technicians (EMTs) and paramedics in the Region and sought funding to fix the situation.

Upper Savannah COG applied for and recently received a $500,000 federal grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to train 100 emergency medical services (EMS) personnel in Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick, Newberry and Saluda counties. The grant award was announced this month.

“The goal is to expand the pool of EMT basic all the way to advanced paramedics,” Upper Savannah COG Workforce Development Administrator Ann Skinner said.

This is a four-year grant applied jointly with the Pee Dee Council of Governments in Florence. The Pee Dee Region will receive $2 million.

“We applied together to increase the chances of the grant being funded,” Skinner said. “But there were statewide issues that we thought we could work on together. The Pee Dee grant is focused more on careers leading to nursing and is hospital-based. Ours is based with the county EMS services.”

According to a recent survey conducted by Piedmont Technical College (PTC), each county in the Upper Savannah Region had vacancies due to a lack of skilled applicants and staff turnover. Greenwood County had 17 vacancies, Laurens eight, Newberry and Edgefield five apiece, Saluda and Abbeville four apiece, and McCormick three.

The grant period begins Feb. 1, 2021, when Upper Savannah can begin to enroll trainees and pay for classes. PTC will be the educational provider while USCOG will administer the grant.

“We are going to have a boot camp this summer for recent high school graduates who are interested in becoming an EMT or paramedic,” Skinner said. “During the summer, they will receive training for basic EMT.

“After the end of the summer, they will have the chance to continue on with school to work toward becoming a paramedic or they will have an opportunity to go to work for one of the seven county EMS systems who are hiring. And if they go to work as an EMT, they can earn a living and continue school part-time to enhance their credentials and earn more.”

The grant will promote more than just the basic EMT curriculum.

“We interviewed Human Resources directors who do exit interviews and asked, ‘why do people quit EMT?’” Skinner said. The answers included stress, long hours and the physical aspects of the job.

“So we will build the boot camp around a retention model,” she said. “Some of the things we have built into the boot camp is some mentoring and counseling so that they can prepare themselves for the emotional and physical aspects of the job.

“We are building into the curriculum weight training. If they are coming straight out of high school, they might not have the physical stamina to lift a patient, so we are building in weight training through the Greenwood YMCA.”

Trainees will also be taught how to sleep.

“There are strategies for how to go to sleep. If you are working a shift job and you can’t go to sleep, you are tired, you can be dangerous, you burn out quickly,” Skinner said.

She said USCOG will work with county EMS directors to make sure they have trained staff to fill their open positions and tailor the training to meet their needs. Having full staffs can reduce overtime and even worker’s compensation cases.

County governments have worked hard to meet local needs during the pandemic. Getting a larger pool of available workers will reduce overtime costs.

This was Upper Savannah’s first-ever workforce development federal grant application and the successful award is a win for everybody in the region.

“Every resident wants fast, professional emergency medical services,” Skinner said. “They want to know if they have a need, that they can call and somebody will come. It’s a universal need.”

News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

Town of McCormick Receives CDBG Funding to Continue Downtown Streetscape Improvements

The Town of McCormick has received a $750,000 grant award in the Fall 2020 Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Community Enrichment, Neighborhood Revitalization and Special Projects Round, the S.C. Department of Commerce announced Dec. 8.

Upper Savannah COG Community Development staff submitted the application on behalf of the Town. Fifteen grants were awarded statewide. McCormick’s grant award of $750,000 is the largest of the 15.

CDBG funds were requested to continue the Town of McCormick’s previous streetscape efforts by improving intersections, restriping parking stalls and crosswalks, landscaping, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible parking, and fencing along the railroad. The project will address the need to provide a safe pedestrian route for residents in the Town.

The project will focus on streetscape improvements on W. Augusta and N. Main streets. Sidewalks will be upgraded to meet current standards and new curb and gutter will be installed.

New ADA compliant handicapped parking will be added, and ADA features will be added for sidewalk and crosswalk access. The asphalt will also be upgraded. Intersection improvements will be made, lines will be repainted, and necessary signage will be installed.

A safe landscaped pedestrian walkway will be added between Town Hall and the McCormick County SC Works building, providing safe pedestrian access to and from the improved public parking area behind Town Hall.

Landscaping will be added throughout the project area providing shade and beautification, consistent with the previously completed Main Street Streetscape also with CDBG funding.

Brick pavers will be used to install a speed table and plaza in front of Town Hall. This will help reduce vehicle speeds down W. Augusta Street, and enhance public safety at park access point. A seat wall/retaining wall and benches will be installed as a focal point and link to the entrance of the park. Security cameras will be installed in the project area to provide additional public safety.

News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

CARES Act Funds Available for Loans to Businesses Affected by Pandemic

Businesses which were temporarily forced to close, experienced loss of revenue or were otherwise negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic might be eligible for business loans from the new Upper Savannah CARES Revolving Loan Fund (CARES RLF). Also, businesses whose products or services are in high demand due to the pandemic could be eligible.

The lending area includes Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, Lexington, McCormick, Newberry and Saluda counties.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $1.5 billion to the EDA for economic development assistance programs to “help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” As part of the CARES Act, funding was provided to expand Upper Savannah’s RLF capacity.

The total available in the new CARES RLF is $760,000.

Working capital loans of up to $50,000 are available at terms of up to five years at a 1 percent fixed rate. Real estate and equipment loans of up to $100,000 are available at terms of up to 15 years at a 2.5 percent fixed rate.  This is not a forgivable loan.

“We are very fortunate to be able to receive these new CARES Act RLF funds on behalf of our Upper Savannah region,” said Upper Savannah Assistant Director Sam Leaman, who administers the loans.

“These funds will not only help businesses survive the economic fallout from this pandemic but provide economic resiliency going forward,” he said.

Leaman has operated the original RLF since it was created 32 years ago to be an alternative funding source available to start-up and expanding businesses in the Upper Savannah Council of Governments region of Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick and Saluda counties. In 2015, Newberry and Lexington counties were added to the eligible list of counties.

Generally, this program is designed to fill the gap between the financing available from traditional private sector sources (i.e. bank loans and equity) and the total financing need. To be eligible, these projects must result in the creation of permanent jobs and leverage private sector investment. This RLF continues to operate and has funds available but at less attractive terms.

The new CARES RLF is available to businesses partially or completely closed by local or state officials to stop the spread of the coronavirus such as restaurants, certain retail stores, personal services, etc.

Loans are also available to businesses forced to close or curtail operations due to employees testing positive for the coronavirus.

Businesses experiencing loss of revenue due to the general economic downturn or logistical problems are also eligible as well as those negatively impacted by other factors linked to the pandemic.

Businesses whose products or services are in high demand due to the virus will also be targeted for lending. For example, there are businesses in the Upper Savannah Region that manufacture medical supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, and components for medical equipment.

Borrowers, lenders and others interested in helping small businesses are encouraged to call Leaman at 864-941-8056 for more information.

News Update from Upper Savannah Council of Governments

Redesigned USCOG Website Provides Access to Information on Many Services

Many job seekers and employers have received help from the SC Works System, family members have benefited when an aging parent receives home-delivered meals or transportation to the doctor, and thousands of residents are enjoying better water and sewer service thanks to grant awards to their communities.

These are just a few of the activities citizens in Abbeville, Edgefield, Greenwood, Laurens, McCormick and Saluda counties might be familiar with through actual experiences. But many do not know the significant role that the Upper Savannah Council of Governments (USCOG) plays in these services.

Information about these services is now easier to access.

With the help of local company AJ Design and Marketing LLC, USCOG recently redesigned its website www.uppersavannah.com. The website provides information on these activities as well as a staff list of contacts.

The website can also be an important tool for community leaders who are seeking assistance for their counties, cities and towns. The website includes Census statistics for each of the six counties and their 24 municipalities in the Upper Savannah Region as well as information about COVID-19 relief funding available to eligible small businesses.

“I am really excited about our new look,” said Upper Savannah Office Assistant Shannon Hill, who assisted with the website update created by AJ Design and Marketing’s Andy Johnston. “Our website is so much easier to view and use, and it is easily accessible on mobile devices.

“The internet is usually the first go to place when looking for help and this site will keep us connected,” Hill continued. “As someone that has been a part of bringing this all together, I am so proud of the final product and can’t wait for others to see it.”

Upper Savannah COG was the first multi-county planning and development organization to be created in South Carolina (in 1967) when Governor Robert E. McNair signed legislation establishing 10 planning districts.

Other planning district (councils of government) office locations in South Carolina include Greenville, Aiken, Rock Hill, Columbia, Florence, Georgetown, North Charleston, Sumter and Yemassee. Information about the other planning districts can be accessed at www.sccogs.org.

USCOG assists with a wide scope of services including help for senior citizens and persons with disabilities, workforce development assistance for employers and job seekers, community development with a focus on community improvements and infrastructure (water and sewer), grant writing and administration, transportation planning, as well as loans to small businesses and other economic development activities for the purpose of saving and creating jobs.

USCOG also offers consultation and technical assistance to local governments on a day-to-day basis. Upper Savannah provides training for elected officials and has hosted numerous workshops to get planning commissioners, zoning appeals board members and staff certified.

USCOG’s imprint is all over the Region, ranging from its partnership in making Highway 72 four lanes (transportation planning) from Interstate 26 to the Georgia border, to helping bring in new industries by providing their sites with water and sewer service (economic development grants), to downtown revitalization projects in several cities and towns (community development grants), to establishing the Upper Savannah Regional Job Fair in partnership with Piedmont Technical College and other agencies (workforce development).

While this imprint will remain for decades, the individual needs of the region’s citizens grow daily. For instance, a job seeker needs to connect with an employer or learn about training for a new vocation. Or a concerned family member needs the comfort of knowing that home-delivered meals, transportation or home care is available to their aging parent, grandparent or sibling. USCOG’s redesigned website will help residents find information about these services.