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The WIRED Initiative, launched in November 2005, stresses the critical role Wired talent development plays in creating effective regional economic development strategies.
WIRED goes beyond traditional strategies for worker preparation by bringing together state, local and federal entities; academic institutions (including K-12, community colleges and universities), investment groups, foundations, and business and industry to address the challenges associated with building a globally competitive and prepared workforce.
In February 2006, following a Solicitation for Grant Applications, the Education and Training Administration announced 13 regions that comprise the WIRED 1st Generation. First Generation regions face various challenges in economic development and sustainability including: remaining competitive with a globalized workforce; managing existing growth opportunities; and creating a more innovative economy by focusing on developing small business. First Generation WIRED Regions were awarded $15 million over three years to revitalize their local economy.
In April 2006, ETA added 13 additional regions, then known as the Virtual Regions. These regions received $100,000 planning grants, were invited to participate in all WIRED related activities and were given access to the tools and resources developed. In January 2007, these regions became the 2nd Generation Regions and received an immediate investment of $500,000. This investment supports the development of a comprehensive implementation plan. Upon completion and acceptance of this plan, each region will receive an additional $4.5 million investment over a three year period.
On June 20, 2007, Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced the U.S. Department of Labor's third generation of WIRED regions. Each of the 13 self-identified areas successfully competed for $5 million to be awarded over a three-year period.
First, 2nd and 3rd Generation WIRED Regions are supported by managers from ETA and the WIRED resource team, as well as have access to various staff from other federal agencies. This expanded team provides the regions with tools and technical assistance that assist them with implementing their plan for regional economic growth.
For more information on WIRED, please visit the Department of Labor web site.