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New Business Initiative Launched at Twin Cities Showcase

BLOOMINGTON - Many students look at the act test as a sign that their high school careers are ending. But now, thanks to a partnership with ACT, McLean County...
BLOOMINGTON - Many students look at the act test as a sign that their high school careers are ending. But now, thanks to a partnership with ACT, McLean County is hoping that's just the start.

"It's your basic academic stuff as far as arithmetic, reading comprehension and all that stuff, but there's also a focus on the soft skills as well,” said Ken Springer, vice president for the Bloomington-Normal Economic Development Council.

On Wednesday, several different county organizations, launched an initiative to get businesses CWRC, or certified work ready community.

These employers will look at the ACT-based scores when hiring.

"We can say we have a work ready community that is 90 percent at a gold level or 70 percent at a platinum level,” said Jennifer Feaman of Heartland Community College.

McLean County is the first county in the state, and one of only 16 nationally to apply for this partnership.

"To be able to give good information about the number of workers available in our community, it puts us a leg above the competition,” said Springer.

For companies like PrideStaff, which places workers in office administration and light industrial jobs, it's a program that piqued owner Sam Lewis' interest.
"Clients, they want less hassle. They want to spend less time finding people and more time getting stuff done,” said Lewis.

And for Dr. Gary Niehaus, who's been part of the push to get this to the area, it could mean a more stable work force all over.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to attract some businesses into Bloomington-Normal that would want the work force that we've prescribed already and through this testing process," said Niehaus.

In order to keep the certification, 92 businesses must sign up for the certification in the next two years. Other benchmarks include the number of underemployed and unemployed that are taking the tests.

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