NCWorks Career Center opens in Watauga
by Anna Oakes
The new center has opened at the Appalachian Enterprise Center, which is leased from Watauga County and located beside the county's Social Services building and Watauga County Health Department on the Poplar Grove Connector in Boone.
At the center, open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., the public can visit for free internet access, resume preparation, career counseling, job application assistance and to search the state's NCWorks Online job listings. The center also provides small business assistance and workshops.
The Watauga Career Center also provides a number of services for employers, including employee application screening, customized job fairs, interview space, employee training and more.
"Employers are really our main customer group," said Adrian Tait, director of the High Country Workforce Development Board. "Employers can hunt for the job seekers. We can help get them the staff they need."
The center replaces the old unemployment office on Winklers Creek Road (which is now closed) and centralizes the efforts of several federally and state-funded agencies, including the High Country Workforce Development Board, N.C. Division of Workforce Solutions, Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute Small Business Center, Clay Wilson & Associates, Urban League and others.
In addition, the center has a close relationship with the Watauga Economic Development Commission and the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce.
"We're working more closely with area schools, colleges, universities, and employers than we have in the past," Tait said.
He said the center partners hope to break the perception of the center as the place to go to file for unemployment, noting that most unemployment filings are conducted online these days. Watauga County allocated funds to complete the renovation of the Appalachian Enterprise Center, and Appalachian State University's interior design program helped shape the vision of what a job center should look like.
"This is not the old unemployment office," he said.
The space includes a public computer access area, a front desk with staff ready to serve walk-in traffic, a meeting room and a small conference room.
The center is currently assisting the new downtown Boone brewery, Lost Province Brewing Co., with its hiring process, assisting with the development of job descriptions and a pre-employment workshop and assessment.
The High Country Workforce Development Board is a business-led policy board serving Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Mitchell, Watauga, Wilkes and Yancey Counties. For more information, visit http://www.highcountrywdb.com.
To reach the Watauga Career Center, call (828) 265-5434.