By: Hayden Huffman – Intern WCU
WestBridge Vocational Inc. continues its social mission to connect those facing barriers to employment by earning a $628,000 grant from The Golden LEAF Foundation. The funding was earned and awarded through a rigorous evaluation process of non-profit organizations throughout the Western North Carolina region. Support from The Golden LEAF Foundation is one that will propel WestBridge Vocational in a positive direction.
The Golden LEAF Foundation, established in 1999, is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to improving economically distressed areas within North Carolina to provide healthy, helpful jobs. Golden LEAF prioritizes the livelihood of workers, preparation of workers, and retaining jobs in rural areas to promote leadership, collaboration, and innovation. Golden LEAF has created roughly 65,381 jobs and has awarded over $1 billion of funding since its establishment. As The Golden LEAF Foundation grows, so does the community Golden LEAF supports. Visit https://www.goldenleaf.org/ for more information.
The $628,000 awarded to WestBridge Vocational will fund building expansions, efficiency improvements on the production floor, the hiring of 25 new employees, and the retention of current employees. WestBridge Vocational will also solidify new contracts with new customers and current customers. Over the next two years of the funding cycle, WestBridge is looking to expand its mission and production capacity, while also providing more employment opportunities.
WestBridge is currently working with The Rapid Center at Western Carolina University. The Rapid Center is a research and development center whose primary mission is to partner with businesses, industries, and entrepreneurs to develop new products and processes. The Rapid Center will be working with WBV to provide recommendations for floor layout, process improvements, and machinery/equipment implementation to current and expected manufacturing demands.
Mike Rogers, Director of Fund Development at WestBridge Vocational, spoke volumes about the funding from Golden LEAF and is looking forward to the future. Rogers said, “Once WestBridge Vocational was awarded the Golden LEAF Grant you could feel the excitement! New connections with other partners, businesses, and organizations will happen, plus new grants will be a greater possibility!”