Southwest Virginia Population decline 2010-2018.

Boucher: $4 Million for Green Construction Training Program

by Lewis Loflin

Update 2019: nothing came of this effort.

(January 7, 2010) Federal Economic Recovery Act Funding Will Establish Program to Train Workers in Cutting-Edge Energy Efficient Construction Techniques. According to Congressman Boucher's website on this latest "Green Pork" initiative:

..that, at his urging, the U.S. Department of Labor, through its Energy Training Partnership program, is providing a federal grant in the amount of $3,865,480 to Community Housing Partners to establish a training program in cutting-edge "green" building techniques. The new program is called CREATES, an acronym for Construction, Retrofitting, and Energy-Efficiency Assessment Training and Employment Systems.

Who exactly is Community Housing Partners? Their website tells of a success story of I believe an illegal alien named Laurie Ramos. To quote:

Six years ago, Laurie Ramos was seeking American citizenship and a better opportunity for her husband and three children when she left her family in the Philippines to come to the United States. With an American-born son and a baby on the way, the eighteen-year-old found herself struggling to survive on Section 8 vouchers to rent a run-down apartment in a crime-ridden neighborhood in Yorktown, Virginia.

In 2001, Community Housing Partners purchased the facility and rehabilitated it into The Woods of Yorktown, a vibrant family-friendly community that is a safe home to more than 200 children. Today, Laurie gives back to her community by cultivating beautiful roses outside of her home. "When I moved in, I had nothing and was pregnant, but I had a feeling that something good was going to happen." -Laurie Ramos

This is success??? I hope she can sell those roses instead of getting food stamps. Here we have another unskilled non-citizen alien with as many as four children already on welfare and pregnant again. Wonder who the father is this time or did she bring the whole family in on welfare?

Ref. URL

This taxpayer funded housing for non-citizen aliens living on welfare such as Ramos includes according to

Colorful Playground
New Resident Community Center
New Cabinets and Vanities
Private Deck and Porches
Central Heat and AC
New Appliances
New Tile Flooring
New Refrigerators and Stoves
And note: Income Restrictions May Apply

That's right. American citizens that work for a living are barred from the very housing this non-citizen alien gets at taxpayer expense. So what exactly is this $3,865,480 supposed to go for? Train who for what? 400 people at a cost almost $10,000 each when anyone can go to an established community college for about $3000 and get a two-year degree?

Thus if the money was simply education grants (based on academic merit, not race or social class) we could help 1200 people get a two-year degree. Who are their other partners? AmeriCorps, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Countrywide, and others who led the housing collapse that has nearly ruined the country.

To continue with Congressman Boucher:

"With the federal funding I am announcing today, a training program will be established throughout the region in energy efficient building. The new program will provide construction professionals in our region with the skills they need to succeed in the industry by offering them opportunities to achieve certifications in energy efficient building and cutting-edge building practices."

The only problem is there's almost no construction jobs to be had in the region. What the hell is a "green" certification supposed to mean? Up to 400 people??? What is it Mr. Boucher 400 students or where do the funds really go and who pockets the loot? Here is the answer:

With the benefit of the federal funds, New River, Wytheville and Virginia Western Community Colleges will train up to 400 students from a 21 county region throughout Southwest Virginia in cutting-edge construction techniques and offer opportunities for students to achieve certifications in "green" building. Additionally, an energy efficiency assessment training program will be established at the New River Center for Energy Research and Training in Christiansburg.

The CREATES program is a collaboration of several partners including Community Housing Partners, Virginia Tech, New River Community College, NewVA Corridor Technology Council, New River/Mount Rogers Workforce Investment Board, Wytheville Community College, Virginia Western Community College and the Western Virginia Workforce Investment Board.

Government agencies and non-profits again. And while he can't name anyone that's hiring he says:

"A need exists for construction professionals who are able to cut home and business energy costs through energy efficient building techniques, and the new CREATES program will help meet this need. I am pleased that the Department of Labor has provided federal funding to help establish this worthwhile program."

Will this rehabilitate more public housing for Section 8 illegal aliens?

Another "partner" listed by Community Housing Partners is the Community Capital Bank of Virginia. Working with Charlottesville Habitat for Humanity they are spending $7 million I assume tax dollars for a defunct trailer park. Taxpayer funded trailer parks for Section 8 residents are not something any thinking bank would be involved in.

Virginia Community Capital (VCC) claims it "is a multi-million dollar non-profit, community development financial institution (CDFI) and banking entity providing innovative loan and investment solutions for affordable housing and economic development projects in the Commonwealth of Virginia."

To further quote,

Providing affordable housing and more importantly helping low-wealth families become homeowners is Greater Charlottesville Habitat for Humanity's primary mission. To achieve this , they have adopted an alternative strategy to providing housing by purchasing trailer parks threatened by development.

The Charlottesville affiliate is the first Habitat in the country to try such a strategy. Virginia Community Capital (VCC) provided a line of credit to help enable the organization to gain site control, secured by real estate the group owns, to purchase the $7 million, 100-acre Southwood Mobile Home Park in Albemarle County.

"Right now traditional banks are not very interested in making loans secured by undeveloped land," Executive Director Overton said. "VCC was willing to do something that other banks were not willing to do."

If another developer stepped in, the 361 families currently living in Southwood would have been displaced. Instead, these families will continue to live there and receive much higher quality affordable housing. With a projected 600 to 800 units available, many new families will also benefit.

In other words it's another crime-ridden public housing project in the making. If this is an actual bank why are they operating as a non-profit to I assume to either evade taxes or qualify for government grants? It's my opinion this is setup is merely to funnel tax dollars into a questionable market no bank is stupid enough to touch. There is nothing illegal or improper here in the technical sense, I'll leave it at that.

Ref. URL

Instead of warehousing poor people forever in public housing they should be given the tools to become self-sufficient and be held directly responsible for their irresponsible conduct.

To quote Rex Todd of Winston-Salem, N.C.-based The Landmark Group, "Rather than have the working-class people sequestered on one side of town and the rich on the other side of town, the idea is to integrate people..." More here...

To quote Washington County supervisor Paul Price, "The rich get richer, and the poor never catch up." More here...

300 workers fired from local healthcare industries

KINGSPORT - An ongoing financial review of Wellmont Health System has found "erroneous" accounting entries from 2006 to 2008 but none that involved theft, personal gain or government contracts. To quote the press, "During the extensive review which included interviews with dozens of past and present Wellmont employees and review of several hundred accounting entries, neither Wellmont nor its independent legal counsel found any evidence of theft or personal gain associated with the erroneous entries Furthermore, the erroneous entries did not involve any payments received or owing to government contracts or payors, and they do not present any regulatory issues for Wellmont."

But the audits also found a "significant decline in liquidity, with days cash on hand dropping approximately 48 percent since June 2007; operating losses through the first five months of fiscal 2009; and the departures of the CEO and CFO." Wellmont and its chief competitor, Johnson City-based Mountain States Health Alliance, Jan. 16 (2009) announced a series of cost-cutting measures because of the downturn in the economy.

MSHA announced the elimination of 109 positions, representing 1.4 percent of its work force of 7,863 people. For Wellmont, changes included elimination of 86 jobs and a reduction in corporate and administrative expenses at Wellmont. Another 60 positions that are now vacant will not be filled. The 86 jobs are just more than 1 percent of Wellmont's work force of 6,900 people in the region. And a new patient tower at Holston Valley Medical Center, part of the $100 million Project Platinum renovation, has been delayed. Ref. Kingsport Times-News January 28, 2009.

The report didn't include the closing of the Wellmont Fitness Center on State Street in Bristol. All together we are losing almost 300 jobs in an industry (one of the few outside government in the region) that has grown for years. What's next?

Tri-Cities Labor Market Report East Tennessee State University - Third Quarter 2014

Employment levels still falling since 2009.

Existing labor market trends dominated the Tri-Cities Consolidated Statistical Area (CSA) in the third quarter. Compared to the same period in 2013, regional employment was lower by 1.7% to 218,244, while unemployment fell 10.3% to 16,664 as discouraged job seekers continued to leave the regional labor force. The summer unemployment rate for the metro area was 7.1% (compared to 7.7% a year earlier). With the labor force shrinking by 2.4%, the falling jobless rate is a sign of labor market weakness.

Among the twelve regional NAICS industry sectors, employment levels were higher in six, lower in six, and unchanged in none (compared to six, four, and two in the second quarter). Job growth was led by construction, professional & business services, other services, and education & health services. Smaller employment gains were reported by transport & utilities, and leisure & hospitality. Major job losses occurred in retail trade, government, and manufacturing. Small employment declines were reported by wholesale trade, information services, and financial services. Overall, the private sector in the metro area saw modest job growth.

During the July to September period, employment was lower in all three cities - falling 2.2% in Kingsport, 2.0% in Johnson City, and 1.2% in Bristol. Matching the regional pattern, large numbers of unemployed workers are exiting the labor market in each city. This has lowered the jobless counts, contracted the labor force, and reduced the unemployment rates. The percent of workers unemployed was 7.0% in Kingsport, 7.1% in Johnson City, and 7.1% in Bristol. As in the metro area, the lower rates in each city reflect labor market weakness.


Back to History, Causes of Poverty in Southwest Virginia

To quote Lenowisco Broadband Study Warned against Call Centers (PDF file):

"The region has been replacing traditional (better paying) manufacturing jobs with (low paying subsidized) call center jobs, which provide limited advancement and work opportunities. Call centers represent the factory floor of the Knowledge Economy; they are an important part of a diversified economic development strategy, but the region must be careful not to rely too heavily on them, as the work is easily moved to other regions and/or other countries."

Lenowisco Broadband Study Warned against Call Centers (PDF file)

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