Announcing a new location for the Align Workforce Development Center; They will be housed in East Adrian

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Adrian — A former school building on Adrian’s east side that was converted into a church more than a decade ago will have a third calling in life.

Leaders from Lenawee County Allen Center for Workforce Development They recently announced that they will be purchasing the existing listing Restoring the Universal Church The building at 430 E. Church St. And transform it back into a workforce development center complete with training classes, a community hall, counseling services, office rental space, child care, and more.

The location of the church was determined after visiting several existing locations across Lenawee County, Align Center leaders said in a news release. Restore World Church converted the former school building into a church in 2011.

Pictured is the building that currently houses Restore World Church in East Adrian, 430 E. Church St.  Leaders of the Align Workforce Development Center of Lenawee County recently announced they will soon purchase the existing church building and convert it into a workforce development center with training classrooms, a community hall, counseling services, office rental space, childcare and more.

“We believe we have found the perfect location to start the Align Center,” ACWD Executive Director Sheila Blair said in the news release. “This campus has great potential for us to grow and be able to serve the county more effectively as needs change.”

Restore World Church will continue to operate in the same building even after the ownership change. I have worked in the community through various outreach programs to reach local men, women and youth. While it has moved its religious services to its location in Ypsilanti, 2146 Mueller St., the ministry, led by the Rev. Claude and Rosa Bevier, will remain active in Adrian, Blair said.

The workforce center was something that was envisioned decades ago, but has been actively developed over the past two years, Align Center leaders said. Organizational leaders, K-12 staff, higher education partners, local business leaders and others helped shape plans for the center.

Sheila Blair is the director of Align Lenawee

Sheila Blair is the director of Align Lenawee

“We assembled a design team of several professional consultants in the areas of human resources, accounting, business development, higher education, workforce development, sales and talent management to flesh out this idea and build our business plan and community support for the concept,” said Randy Jagella, Director of Development at Lenawee. Now and design team leader. “We are creating a very unique space that does not currently exist in Lenawee County but will have a significant impact on businesses and the community.”

The Align Workforce Development Center seeks to meet the talent needs of Lenawee County, while bridging the gap between the skills needed and the capabilities of area residents.

more: ‘Things are starting to come together’: The county’s workforce development center is making progress

Lenawi nowMeanwhile, the Public-Private Local Economic Development Partnership has incubated the idea of ​​a Workforce Development Center since 2015, the release said, when a resolution linking the workforce and economic development was found.

“When companies are looking for a place to build their new factories, the first two things they focus on are the available talent pool and the availability of local training to upskill that talent pool,” Patrick Farver, CEO of Lenawee Now and a new board member of the Align Center for Workforce Development, said. Added in version. “Both are made possible through Align’s Center for Workforce Development and its partnerships.”

Patrick Farver, CEO of Lenawee Now

Patrick Farver, CEO of Lenawee Now

ACWD’s board of directors consists of seven local and national professionals with talents specific to Align’s needs, the statement said. Board members are:

  • Rhonda Wingfield, Board President, local and regional business owner and higher education educator.

  • Rick Hedrick, Treasurer, CEO, PlaneWave Instruments.

  • Candy Gomez, secretary and legal attorney at Katherine Cobb Safe House.

  • Patrick Farver, Director and CEO at Lenawee Now.

  • Dale Collins, director and chief operating officer of Ucklee Health and Nutrition.

  • Carlos Casanova, director and professor at Arizona State University and community activist.

  • Terry Simmons, retired principal and executive director of strategic planning and projects for the Lenawee Intermediate School District.

The Align Center will host training and small business consulting in the building and a maker space to incubate the development of entrepreneurial products and services, the statement said. Additionally, through partnerships with other tenants at the Service Center, other services will be provided to community members including health screenings, healthy cooking classes, basic computer courses, employment assistance and support, college financial aid, community education opportunities and more.

The Align Center said it has a long-term plan to build a campus on the property with the potential to acquire more properties nearby that could host industrial training, such as robotics.

The former elementary school gymnasium has been converted into an exhibition space with a stage and audio-visual equipment. The room seats up to 300 people and abuts a commercial kitchen, which will be renovated once Align finishes purchasing the building. The 2,800-square-foot room will be dedicated as the Chico Martinez Community Hall in honor of the former community activist who was integral in the formation and continuation of Adrian’s Cinco de Mayo Parade and Festival, which is now named in his honor. Martinez, 56, died on November 8, 2022, from complications of stage 4 lung cancer, which he was diagnosed with in 2019.

more: Adrian’s Cinco de Mayo Parade and Festival renamed in memory of Chico Martinez

“We want this center to be used 18 hours a day to provide various services to the community,” Blair said. “Not only will we have meetings and classes in the evening, but the Chico Martinez Community Hall and some other spaces will be available for community members to rent as well.”

Blair said it was important that the local community and regional business partners viewed the Align Center as “solution centers,” where people could be proud of the center and “want to be here.”

Partners who have verbally committed to occupying space in the building are Ebeid Neighborhood Promise, Michigan Works Southeast, Jackson College, Siena Heights University, Lenawee County Chemical Collaborative, HOLA (Hispanics of Lenawee Alliance) and the Ben and Connie Negron HOLA Foundation. There is still space available for agencies/organizations to move into the development center, “but it is moving quickly,” Blair said.

The building renovations are expected to take at least six months once Align occupies the building. Some of the renovations needed include a new elevator, a new commercial kitchen, a community hall, two training classrooms, one computer lab, a maker entrepreneurship space, a child care room, hospitality and medical training space, consulting offices, offices and tenant areas. Which has not yet been determined.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer approved $10 million in the state’s 2024 budget. While the budget was approved, the release of funds was delayed, which in turn delayed the building’s purchase and renovation.

more: New Lenawee County Workforce Development Center gets $10 million in state funding

“The people of Lenawee County need and deserve a workforce development center like this,” Sen. Joe Bellino (R-Hillsdale/Lenawee/Monroe) said in the release. “For residents, this will not be a charity centre, it will be a help centre, breaking the cycle of inter-generational poverty. For businesses, I believe this center will be a saving grace for not only talent development. But also business development through consulting and innovation.”

Align Center CEO is ‘the new face in town’

Blair, 50, is a Monroe County native. She and her husband, Rusty Russell, are now Lenawee County residents after moving from Southgate in September.

She spent the last 20 years of her career in workforce development, training and mentoring returning citizens, the unemployed, executives and everyone in between, the press release said.

She continued to manage a workforce development project for human services and mental health professionals in Wayne County. Subsequently, Blair served as Director of Curriculum and Workforce Development at a non-profit organization that provides employment and business skills to returning citizens, recently released from prison, to reduce recidivism.

In 2016, she started her own company, traveling to Michigan and the United States providing training and consulting to companies. In the fall of 2020, I began consulting with Lenawee Now on a USDA grant to assist minority-owned businesses. Since then, she has been asked to provide more and more diverse consultancies.

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“I am now involved in many programs and projects, the biggest of which is seeing the Allen Center for Workforce Development open and remain sustainable,” Blair said.

She has spent the past two years as part of the design team tasked with bringing the Align Center back to life.

In addition to decades of experience, Blair has a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology and is a certified project manager.

– Contact reporter Brad Heineman at bheineman@lenconnect.com or follow him on X, formerly Twitter: twitter.com/LenaweeHeineman.

This article originally appeared on the Daily Telegram: Announcing the new location of the Align Workforce Development Center

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