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‘Made in Franklin’ event set

Franklin County is home to many different businesses and industries that play an important role in the local as well as state economy.

Franklin County is also home to hundreds of high school students who will soon be graduating and choosing a career path.

Next week, the Franklin County Development Authority (FCDA) will bring these two groups together for an event that organizers believe will be beneficial to both sides.

The first ever “Made in Franklin” event will take place Thursday, Nov. 6, in the Russellville Middle School gymnasium.

Each business or industry in Franklin County will have the opportunity to set up a booth that tells all about their company and the kinds of jobs their company offers, the types of training or higher education it requires to have those jobs, and how local students can one day fill those positions.

According to FCDA executive director Mitch Mays, he has heard from many people in the community who have expressed their displeasure with the fact that local students typically have to go outside of the county to find work once they graduate. But knowing first-hand what kinds of job opportunities the county has available, Mays said he wanted to give local students a chance early on to see what options were available to them right here locally for employment post-graduation.

“There is a similar event that they have in DeKalb County, and after we learned about that event and how they were able to put business and industry together with local education, we decided this was something we wanted to do here in Franklin County as well,” Mays said.

“Our goal with this event is to improve our workforce development efforts in the county. Industries need a trained or trainable workforce and students need an opportunity to learn what careers are available to them.

“Businesses that choose to be part of this event can showcase products and hands-on items and activities for the students so they can learn how important science, technology, engineering, and math are to them, and how they can use those skills right here locally.”

Students from both the Russellville City and Franklin County schools will be attending the event, which will take place next Thursday morning.

Scott Wiginton, the director of the Franklin County Career Technical Center, said this would be an amazing opportunity for his students.

“By seeing some of these products that are made right here in the county, the students can have a better idea of what these companies do and how they can be part of these companies,” Wiginton said.

“Several of our county’s businesses are worldwide corporations and they make products that are shipped across the country and overseas, and there are people from Franklin County who are working on these things.

“I think it will be great for our students to see how they can make not only a local and statewide impact, but also a global impact by being part of some of these companies.”

Wiginton said it’s also a great opportunity for the students to see some real-life connections to the things they are learning in the classroom.

“So many times the students are sitting there wondering how this math class or this English class or science class is going to matter to them later on,” he said.

“By talking to the representatives from these companies, these students will be able to see just what skills and what knowledge is needed for certain jobs.

“All of a sudden, that algebra class is more exciting because they need to know this math when making cabinets or working with routers, and that anatomy class has a little more meaning because it will help them later on when they are taking classes in the health sciences field.

“That type of applied learning is really important.”

Some of the area’s biggest industries and employers will be on hand for the event promoting jobs like welding, machinists, engineering, drafting, cabinet-making, and carpentry.

“We’re also going to have the hospitals involved talking about careers in the health science field and the types of education and training needed for those jobs,” Mays said.

There are already many businesses and industries that have signed up, but Mays said there is always room for more.

“Besides building our workforce development, this is a great opportunity for each business in this county to showcase the products they manufacture and market themselves and what they do,” he said.

“It’s also a good opportunity for business-to-business interactions and networking that can be beneficial later on.

“We really believe this is going to be a great event and something we plan to have each year, so we hope all our businesses will get on board and be a part of it from the very beginning.”

The deadline for businesses to register to be a vendor at the event is 2 p.m. this Friday, Oct. 31.

Any Franklin County business or event sponsor who is interested in filling out a vendor application or who needs more information can contact Sherye Price by phone at 256-332-8726 or by e-mail at sprice@franklineda.com.