Community Economy

Tony Crawford makes sure that all your green, pomegranate and peach tea gets to your local supermarket.

The 31-year-old is a tea room attendant at Bigelow. After a stint in the Air Force, Crawford never quite landed a stable job, until now. He says soft skills such as punctuality, responsibility and focus are helping him in his new gig.

“I did my six years in the Air Force but I had to re-invent myself,” he says. “And let people know, hey, it’s about consistency and not just complacency.”

Four years ago this month, the Kentucky Manufacturing Career Center in Louisville opened its doors and began helping people train and apply for jobs. And Crawford is the Center’s 1,000th job placement. He says the center, which operates under Louisville Metro’s KentuckianaWorks, helped him develop those skills during a two-and-a half week training program.

He’s learned some technical skills as well, he says.

“Lean manufacturing, extra typing skills, email skills,” says Crawford.

The average wage for job placements through the center is a little more than $13 per hour. And in the first quarter of 2017 there were about 1,200 job postings in advanced manufacturing. Not as many as the health sector, which had almost 5,000 postings over the same period, but a little more than construction, which had 900 job postings.

Mayor Greg Fischer says Louisville isn’t big enough to have an economy that can be everything to everyone — like a New York or Los Angeles. But there is an area he feels the city can provide opportunities for workers and businesses.

“So we have to be focused and we have to have our own value proposition and one of those sectors is advanced manufacturing,” the mayor said at a news conference Monday celebrating the center’s 1,000th job placement.

And for some workers, like Tony Crawford,  job placement through KMCC is the first step in a sector responsible for more than 77,000 jobs in the area. But Crawford isn’t done yet. There are things he realizes he still needs to learn. And he says a bachelor’s degree will get him there

“Probably business administration, public speaking and couple of other things I’ll try and test the waters with,” says Crawford. “But I love learning.”

Roxanne Scott covers the economy for WFPL News.