Newton County grant expands youth testing

Ribbon Cutting C.W.R.C. Ceremony Training Center

Pictured: Ribbon Cutting for grand opening of new training center held with Newton County’s CWRC Ceremony in 2015.

The Neosho Area Business & Industrial Foundation, Inc. (NABIFI) won a grant from the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED) to expand career readiness testing for youth across Newton County. The National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) is the benchmark of choice for thousands of job seekers and employers statewide. As a key function of Certified Work Ready Communities (CWRC), additional NCRC testing is essential for Newton County to maintain its certification with ACT.

While federal workforce funds already cover testing for individuals 18 and older across Missouri, NABIFI provided funds previously for testing of 17 year-olds in partnership with Crowder College and the local school districts of Neosho and Seneca. The addition of the East Newton school district and new testing goals for CWRC, the grant from DED to NABIFI helps fill the gap.

“NABIFI is committed to expanding the Newton County CWRC effort to all Newton County schools. Additionally, we are working on strategies to offer testing for existing members of our workforce,” according to Mike Franks, CEO at NABIFI. “It is our goal to exceed all goals tied to Newton County CWRC Phase 2, in the same manner, we exceeded our goals for Phase 1 by some 155%,” Franks noted.

Newton’s CWRC attainment in 2015 joined Jasper County’s 2013 effort to become the first CWRC metro in the nation. As of July 31, 2016, 74 employers in Newton County endorse the NCRC and the number of certificate-holders is well on the way to the two thousand mark.

“We are grateful that Missouri DED has agreed to support our efforts to build the quality and quantity of the Newton County workforce. This is one of the tools we need to create not just more jobs, but better jobs for Newton County,” Franks added.

For more information on NABIFI, contact Mike Franks at 417-451-2945. More info on the CWRC is found online at