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New Leaf Center houses workforce program classrooms

COVINGTON — The New Leaf Center in Covington will provide a new classroom setting for the workforce development program headed by Shamica Redding.

The program recently graduated seven Newton County residents ranging in age from 25 to 59. During the six-week program, adults learn not only soft skills, but undergo computer training for Microsoft Office and Excel, manufacturing training and OSHA certification.

The multi-use, $3 million center located in Walker’s Bend was funded through a variety of sources — federal Neighborhood Stabilization funds, Newton County SPLOST dollars, the Covington Housing Authority — and will now serve as a place for qualified tenants of the Housing Authority to transition before moving into market-rate housing.

The center will house the workforce development program so more adult students can improve their skills in order to receive employment.

“With the new center’s classrooms, we will be able to enroll up to 20 people for the upcoming classes,” Redding said. “It will be a program not only for Newton County residents but the entire northeast of Georgia.”

While there are some funds left from the city and Covington Housing Authority, Redding said the workforce program will receive funds from the Northeast Georgia Regional Commission’s Workforce Development Division, which manages the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds that are allocated to the Northeast Georgia region.

Participants of the workforce program must have a GED or high school diploma in order to enroll in the classes. The program is free and offers the necessary materials and textbooks. Participants are provided with a small stipend since the classes take place from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. five days a week, Redding said.