TAZEWELL, Va. — Tazewell County officials are planning to open a comprehensive “One Stop Center” near Bluefield, Va., this August.

With the threat of looming Virginia Employment Commission office closures in Southwest Virginia, the county Board of Supervisors are hoping to retain and consolidate multiple services now under one roof at the old Idea Park site in Bluefield, Va., which is adjacent to the location of the future Bluestone Regional Business and Technology Center.

“The VEC is a mandated partner with the Workforce Investment Act,” County Administrator Jim Spencer said. “However, if they close the office in Cedar Bluff, we wanted to make sure the gap is filled so our folks wouldn’t have to go to Norton. What we are trying to do here is we are trying to bring the folks in workforce training and economic development together. So truly it will be a one stop. It would be for dislocated workers, and folks who are unprepared and need training. There will be services for adults and youth. Clinch Valley (Community Action) will be doing a lot of the work.”

The supervisors approved a memorandum of understanding last week between the Southwest Virginia Workforce Investment Board and the Workforce Area One Consortium to provide one-stop services for employers, employees, those seeking employment and other interested partners. According to the agreement, the consortium’s vision is to have and promote a well-trained, well educated, highly skilled and qualified workforce that is actively engaged in lifelong learning. The One Stop Center at the Bluestone would serve Buchanan, Russell and Tazewell counties, and provide a multitude of additional services, including adult education in conjunction with Clinch Valley Community Action.

“We were talking workforce training in the Bluestone, and the idea came about of making it one stop,” Eastern District board member David Anderson said. “The nice thing about this is we do have a nice building already out there in the Idea Park incubator. It may become a fixture of the Bluestone later. This isn’t costing the tax payers of Tazewell County anything. We will get the money from the state to run the facility.”

By providing a multitude of services under one roof, citizens won’t have to travel outside of Tazewell County for help, Northwestern District board member Earl Griffith said. That includes VEC programs dealing with senior citizens and adult education.

“Since they took it all to Norton, we weren’t getting any services in Tazewell or Buchanan counties, or make that very limited services,” Griffith said.

“Because people who aren’t employed couldn’t afford to drive to Norton. It (the One Stop Center) is basically a done deal. We just have to get the building ready working with Southwest Virginia Community College and the other colleges around us.”

Griffith said the board hopes to have the new One Stop Center operational early as August. In the meantime, Spencer said folks needing related services right now can still stop by the Clinch Valley Community Action offices in Tazewell for assistance.

– Contact Charles Owens at cowens@bdtonline.com