How the Bedford County Office of Economic Development Connects Students with Opportunities Right in Their Community

Bedford Office of Econ Blog

Here at Virginia’s Community Colleges, we know how important it is to connect students with the resources they need– especially when it comes to finding the right career. That’s why places like the Bedford County Office of Economic Development offer students a way to discover jobs right outside their door.

In Bedford County, the Bedford County Office of Economic Development works to amplify those opportunities to strengthen its workforce and community.

We spoke with Pam Bailey, Director of Economic Development at the Office of Economic Development, to learn more about how they support businesses all over the county, as well as educate high school students on the many careers they can pursue right in their local community. 

What does the Office of Economic Development do?

The Office of Economic Development works closely with businesses in the Bedford area to see where they might need support.

One challenge Pam and her team see many businesses continue to face is the lack of a skilled workforce. Pam sees this as an opportunity for their local community college –Central Virginia Community College—to step in.

“In Bedford County, 80 percent of jobs do not require a four-year degree, and that’s where I hope companies turn towards Central Virginia Community College, to either recruit employees or send their current employees so they can get the certification they need to be successful. G3 is a great opportunity for companies to educate their employees,” says Pam. “It’s an affordable opportunity that more people should take advantage of. Whether you’re right out of high school, or in your late fifties, you can go and get a certificate or accreditation that companies need.”

How does the Bedford County Office of Economic Development support students?

The Office of Economic Development works with high school students through Bedford ONE, a program that links high school students with local businesses based on their career interests. While they had to take a hiatus from in-person tours during Covid-19, they plan on starting them back up this fall.

“The Bedford ONE tours show students, while they’re still in high school, some of the different job opportunities offered at local companies along with the breadth and depth of career pathways available in the region,” says Pam. “You can be anything from a machinist to a nuclear engineer and everything in between.”

The Office of Economic Development also coordinates virtual career conversations between local high schools and businesses to let students know what possibilities are in Bedford County, whether they want to enter the workforce right out of school or return after attending college out of the area.   

The career conversations are available on their YouTube page.

What advice would you give for students who are considering going to CVCC or are maybe on the fence?

“I would encourage them to check out all the programs CVCC has to offer. You might be wondering what is mechatronics? This could be a great opportunity to go check it out,” says Pam. “I feel like 90% of finding your career path is figuring out what you don’t want to do, and you won’t know that until you experience it yourself.”

The Office of Economic Development is a supporter of Central Virginia Community College and the statewide G3 Business Ambassador program. Visit the Office of Economic Development’s website to learn more.