From Humble Beginnings
The Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing (SVAM) dates back to 2005 when a group of government leaders and educational partners in Smyth and Washington Counties met to discuss strategies for boosting a weakening manufacturing workforce. Originally called the Smyth-Washington Regional Workforce Consortium, this initial group consisted of 14 industries (seven from each county); two county governments; two county school systems; two community colleges; and the Washington County Skill Center. The 14 manufacturers alone represented more than 6,700 employees in Smyth and Washington Counties.
Our fledgling organization immediately partnered with the National Association of Manufacturing's Manufacturing Institute, an organization that had already studied manufacturing workforce issues and tackled the skilled worker shortage. We then applied for and received a $900,000 grant from the Virginia Works Program, a statewide initiative created to promote economic growth in rural communities. These funds, in addition to matching and in-kind donations, enabled us to develop into the strong organization that SVAM is today.