LINCS – Leveraging Integrated Networks for Change and Sustainability – is a project to develop a rural regional workforce based on industry-recognized credentials and need in order to strengthen the economy and population in West Alabama. LINCS is comprised of a 10-county service area in the area known as the Black Belt. LINCS is funded by a $2.5 million grant from the U. S. Department of Labor and the Delta Regional Authority.

The purpose of LINCS is to increase the advanced manufacturing skills sets and employment in the region’s under-served 10 counties, which include: Sumter, Choctaw, Clarke, Greene, Hale, Marengo, Perry, Pickens, Washington and Wilcox. The region is covered by Alabama Regional Workforce Councils 3, 5 and 7.

The project will implement three-LINCS approaches to address current identified gaps in the region’s workforce pipeline: 1) develop employer-driven curriculum and fast-track certificate programs; 2) recruit and place new entrants into the workforce and promote incumbent workers in order to retail and advance their positions; and 3) establish the Center for Rural Apprenticeships at the University of West Alabama.

LINCS is a long-term investment between education, economic development and individuals where each partner reaps multiple benefits. The program will be designed around customized economic and workforce curricula designed to meet the needs of regional employers with the goal of enriching regional economic development, job growth, expanded skills and employment and a higher level of livability.