$10,000 Cooperative Competes Grant Awarded for the Sea Force Career Exploration Program in Harrison County, Miss.

Pictured L to R: Windy Swetman III, Stevie Phillips, Bill Lavers, Ron Barnes, Brandi Hough, Guy Johnson

Hattiesburg, Miss. (July 26, 2022) — Cooperative Energy, together with the 11 Member distribution cooperatives it serves, announced today the award of a Cooperative Competes grant to the Harrison County Development Commission for the Sea Force career exploration program.

“Coast Electric is pleased to use Cooperative Competes grant funds to financially support the Sea Force program for a second year,” said Ron Barnes, Coast Electric president and CEO. “This year, the Cooperative Energy Board of Directors approved twice the amount, $10,000, to help exemplary students gain real-life work experience.”

The Sea Force career exploration program provides a novel approach to career exploration in Harrison County. The program involves partnerships with local high schools and businesses to match students with career pathways in the region. Juniors and seniors within five school districts participate in job interviews at a business of their choice, and if they are a good fit, they are hired.

Most importantly, there is no cost for students or businesses for participating in the Sea Force program.  The Harrison County Development Commission pays the students’ wages for the duration of their work. Funds from grants like the Cooperative Competes initiative help make the program possible.

“Sea Force was created in 2019 as one of many strategies to address a narrowing labor market,” said Bill Lavers, director of the Harrison County Development Commission. “The program is the ultimate win/win because students are given exposure to careers in our region, and businesses are provided access to quality talent at no additional cost.”

The Cooperative Competes initiative is aimed at increasing community competitiveness and encouraging economic growth. A component of the initiative allows economic development organizations to apply for grant funds to support industrial property, workforce, or community development efforts throughout Mississippi. These funds are provided jointly by Cooperative Energy’s 11 Member distribution cooperatives.

“The opportunity to use Cooperative Competes funds to invest in our youth helps us fulfill our mission to make a difference in the communities we serve,” said Barnes. “Together, with Cooperative Energy, our support of the program is a tangible investment in the next generation workforce.”

For more information about Sea Force visit https://www.seaforcems.org/

For more information about Cooperative Competes visit www.cooperativeenergy.com/economic-development-cooperative-competes/


About Cooperative Energy
Cooperative Energy generates and transmits electricity to 11 Member-owned electric distribution cooperatives. Known as the Power of 12, Cooperative Energy and its Member cooperatives work together to provide safe, reliable and affordable power from the Mississippi Delta to the Coast. The 11 electric cooperatives own and maintain more than 58,000 miles of distribution lines and provide service to approximately 445,000 homes and businesses throughout 55 counties.