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Business & Merchant

COE Distributing and The Challenge Program, Inc. (TCP) are actively addressing the workforce shortage in the region.

Challenge
Area educators at Challenge symposium

James D. Ewing, Jr., CEO and president of COE Distributing, hosted a tour for area educators of their Fayette County distribution center. His goal was to have educators learn first-hand about the family sustaining wage employment opportunities available right in their community.

COE Distributing is a nationwide distributor of large and small office furniture in Fayette County. It was reported last fall that they will be expanding their distribution center and adding jobs. Ewing’s concern about continuing to find qualified regional employees for his expanding company led to a major corporate partnership with The Challenge Program, Inc. As a result of this partnership, Ewing can realistically build a recruiting pipeline by directly partnering and developing relationships with high schools and career and technology centers in Fayette and Washington Counties.

COE Distributing currently supports the following schools financially and/or with workforce readiness:
• Albert Gallatin HS
• Brownsville HS
• California HS
• Connellsville CTC
• Connellsville HS
• Fayette CTI
• Geibel HS
• Laurel Highlands HS
• Uniontown HS

As a major corporate partner, COE Distributing was able to develop four summer learning experience openings. These learning experiences are accessible to students from the nine mentioned schools. To be eligible for one of these openings students must be 18 years of age and will have actively competed for, and become a finalist in, any one of TCP’s five award categories. There will be an application and interview process for identified students. Once a student is accepted, they will be expected to complete 160 hours of work over an 8-week period this summer in order to receive a financial award. (Students in the above mentioned schools should see their guidance counselors for more details).

“Through our partnership with The Challenge Program, Inc., COE is excited to connect with the educators in Fayette and Washington Counties and provide the opportunity for local students to experience what opportunities they have within Fayette County. The ability to create and develop a relationship with the schools, staff, and students can have a very positive impact on the future of not only COE’s workforce development, but that of the entire county by others following our example,” said James D. Ewing, Jr.

The Challenge Program, Inc.’s mission is to build sustainable business/education partnerships while introducing students to careers in their communities. These partnerships contribute to workforce and economic development by motivating students to develop the solid work habits required to succeed in school and in their future careers.

In above photo:
Row 1 (l-r): Nadia Uhall, California High School; Sara Hough, Connellsville High School; Lorri Scheller, Connellsville High School; Elaine Kopich, Albert Gallatin High School; Michelle Eitner, COE Distributing.
Row 2 (l-r): James D. Ewing, Jr., COE Distributing; Tina Dull, Geibel Catholic High School; Jennifer Jubin, COE Distributing; Justin Grimm, Fayette CTI; Cortney Kezmarsky, Uniontown High School; Randy Miller, Laurel Highlands High School; Shawna Little, Connellsville CTC
Not Pictured: Melanie Ewing, COE Distributing and Myra Bernhart, The Challenge Program, Inc.

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