Board Initiatives

A special 2021 initiative of the Pee Dee Workforce Development Board is the H-1B Rural Healthcare grant. In February, 2021, the US Department of Labor awarded an H-1B grant to the Pee Dee Regional Council of Governments, on behalf of the Pee Dee Workforce Development Board. The total grant award was $2,271,023, with about $1.7 million allocated for the Pee Dee Region and approximately $500,000 for the Upper Savannah Region. The grant was one of 17 awarded nationally, one of three awarded in the Southeast Region, and the only one in the state of South Carolina. 

The H-1B Rural Healthcare grant is designed to address the shortage of rural healthcare workers in occupations that directly impact patient care. McLeod Health is the employer partner for the Pee Dee project. The targeted occupations are Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse, Medical Assistant, Pharmacy Technician, Phlebotomist, and Nursing Assistant. For the Upper Savannah Region, Emergency Medical Tech/Paramedic is the targeted occupation and seven county EMS employers are partners. 

In June, the partners of the Level UP Grant participated in a quarterly meeting to hear the progress made in the Pee Dee and Upper Savannah projects of the grant. Though the grant provided a 9-month planning and implementation period, both local areas have already begun to recruit and/or enroll participants in the project! Implementation is right on schedule.

Recruitment in the Pee Dee portion of the grant is in full swing! McLeod Health posted the positions for which the grant will offer scholarships in its applicant tracking system and, in only a few days, received 129 applications for LPN training, 69 applications for RN training, 24 applications for MST training, and 19 applications for Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Training! In addition, McLeod Health received 116 e-mails and phone calls regarding this opportunity to "level up". The Level UP Facebook page was launched and the flyer regarding the opportunity to participate in the program has been shared 30 times! One of the shares was to the SC Works Pee Dee Page, which currently has nearly 9,000 followers.

We are extremely excited about the overwhelming response to this opportunity. The first cohort of participants for the Pee Dee will begin training at Florence-Darlington and Northeastern Technical Colleges in August and applications will be closed on August 1, 2021 for those anticipating an August start date. Stay tuned for more updated information.