Lincoln Celebrates Workforce Development Successes

Published on March 27, 2024

Mayor announces continued support for childcare training, entrepreneurship, and credentialing

Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird, with Lincoln City Council member Justin Carlson and other local officials, today highlighted the City of Lincoln’s investments in workforce development as a key economic growth strategy. As part of the City’s Grow the Great Life Week, the speakers demonstrated how investments in job training and credentialing are helping Lincoln residents gain access to meaningful, financially secure careers and enabling local employers to hire with skilled labor.

The event marked the three-year anniversary of the Biden-Harris Administration’s passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Mayor Gaylor Baird noted that the City of Lincoln designated the largest share of its ARPA funds for workforce development, one of her administration’s priority pillars.

“Our deployment of American Rescue Plan funding is growing Lincoln’s workforce and helping job seekers at all ages and stages of their careers,” Mayor Gaylor Baird said. “To date, these workforce investments have served more than 700 Lincoln residents, empowering them to learn new skills or to strengthen existing ones in high-demand career fields like childcare, health sciences, IT, manufacturing, and welding. As a result of this investment in their training, over 300 individuals have received a credential, and 78 have reported an increase in their wages.”

Joining Mayor Gaylor Baird at the news conference were Justin Carlson, Southwest Lincoln City Council representative; Dylan Wren, American Job Center (AJC) Workforce Administrator; Allison Hatch, Lincoln Partnership for Economic Development Director of Workforce Development; and Kelly Ross, Empowering Communities through Her Opportunities (ECHO) Founder and Executive Director.

Mayor Gaylor Baird announced that the City will extend a workforce grant contract with Community Action for another two years to increase the number of trained and credentialed childcare workers. This grant has already served 40 participants, and the contract extension will enable another 50 to 75 participants to receive childcare credentials and help meet the high demand for trained workers in this field. 

The Mayor also announced that the City will redirect $75,000 in the City’s ARPA funds allocated for workforce assistance to support ECHO Collective, which connects and empowers local refugee and immigrant women. The grant provides funding to enable another cohort of refugee and immigrant women to attend an intensive, four-month business education course.

The newly expanded and relocated American Job Center, supported by $1.5 million of the City’s ARPA funding, has been instrumental in providing vital resources and training opportunities to job seekers, Wren said. The Center has already nearly reached its goal with more than 35 individuals in its Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) program, providing financial assistance for training and facilitating job placements in the transportation sector.

The news conference also included a testimonial from Christopher Aunquoe, a CDL program graduate, who shared his journey from homelessness to gaining a CDL credential and securing employment. His inspiring story underscored the transformative impact of the City’s workforce development investments on individuals' lives.

Hatch highlighted the success of the Lincoln Manufacturing Council’s (LMC) expanded training, made possible through ARPA funding. LMC, an industry-led collaboration, has increased its offerings to include a range of classes catering to diverse learners, including high school students, adults seeking career transitions, and immigrants/refugees.

“Since receiving ARPA Workforce Development funds, the Lincoln Manufacturing Council has increased the number of classes offered, the types of classes offered and the individuals served,” Hatch said. “As a result of our programs, we have helped 115 individuals obtain employment, get pay increases or earn a credentials. We are very proud of the impact our manufacturing programs have had on the Lincoln community and look forward to continuing to serve our learners in partnership with the City and American Jobs Center.”

Mayor Gaylor Baird added that another program offered by the AJC, the Youth Employment Services, offers paid summer internships at various City departments. The deadline to apply for the program is 5 p.m. April 1. For more information, visit

Wednesday’s news conference was the third in a series of five Grow the Great Life Week events March 25 to 29. Each day, Mayor Gaylor Baird and community partners will highlight City achievements and initiatives designed to strengthen the economy, grow the workforce, drive sustainable development, support local businesses, and enhance the overall quality of life in Lincoln. 

For more information about the AJC, visit