Spotlight the Southern Workforce Board

This week’s Spotlight is on the Southern Workforce Board (SWB), which is a community based not-for-profit entity. The SWB is operated by a volunteer board of directors that is business-led by members representing the community and who have an interest in workforce and economic development issues throughout the 17-county region. These counties are mainly rural areas in the southeastern corner of the state and include Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Choctaw, Coal, Garvin, Haskell, Johnston, Latimer, Le Flore, Love, Marshall, McCurtain, Murray, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, and Pushmataha – with a combined estimated Census population of 407,350. 

The board provides policy guidance that will allow the staff, Oklahoma Works Centers, and partners to create, within the Southern Workforce Development Area, an environment where every person maximizes his or her career potential, and all employers and businesses have the human resources they need to grow and prosper.  

Currently, SWB employs six staff and will be hiring two more in the near future.

SWB receives funding from the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).  Funds are designed to strengthen and improve the nation’s public workforce development system by helping Americans with barriers to employment, including individuals with disabilities, achieve high quality careers and helping employers hire and retain skilled workers.  WIOA Programs provide a combination of education and training services to prepare people for work and improve employment prospects. Services may include resume preparation, job search assistance, training/education assistance, and connections to various other resources.

The Southern Workforce Board envisions a high performance workforce in which partnerships proactively identify workforce needs and facilitate solutions. Their mission is to implement the strategic process that aligns workforce with economic development in partnership with the community to maximize opportunities and address needs.

The Board’s Strategic Economic & Workforce Development Goals

  • Identify and provide on-going access to quality services that meet the current and future workforce needs of youth, job-seekers, and employers and businesses;
  • Identify trends and opportunities in the workforce area and local labor markets;
  • Report to the community on outcomes, trends and issues;
  • Maintain and publicizing an inventory of programs and services to the businesses of the workforce area in order to meet their workforce needs;
  • Partner for education and training services to meet the needs of the underemployed, unemployed, and newly emerging workers;
  • Design and facilitate a framework for coordinating public policy impacting workforce development issues in Southern Oklahoma

The Southern Workforce Board and Executive Director, Kerry Manning, have been great partners with the Johnston County Chamber, providing research and data for use in economic development strategies and marketing. We look forward to growing this partnership and working together to prepare Johnston County’s youth for the future business and industry needs of the community. “The Oklahoma Works Centers provided over 1,800 customers with workforce development services last year.”  You can learn more about the SWB by visiting

Read next week for a Spotlight on Sooner Trading!

Please keep Chamber Bucks in mind when you are thinking about gifts for staff, customers, friends, and family this year for the holidays! Make the conscious effort to shop local this year! Also, Breakfast with Santa tickets are now on sale. Find a link on our Facebook page to buy online or stop by the office.