Workforce Southwest Washington Awards Cowlitz County Businesses

Vancouver, Wash. (Mar. 14, 2019) – Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW), the local workforce development board overseeing the public workforce system in Cowlitz, Wahkiakum and Clark counties, presented the Excellence in Workforce Development Awards to four Cowlitz County organizations at its March 13 board meeting.

Awards were given in two categories: Excellence in Building Workforce Partnerships and Innovation in Workforce Development.

  • JH Kelly, IBEW Local 48 and the Longview School District received the Excellence in Building Workforce Partnerships Award for their collaboration in developing a high school pre-apprenticeship program.

The program combines classroom instruction and hands-on construction projects with field trips to regional construction businesses, where students interact with employees. While completing a combination of traditional courses, students also learn trade-specific skills in fabrication, construction and manufacturing to prepare them for entry into a trades apprenticeship program after graduation.

With JH Kelly’s financial support, the district upgraded equipment and facilities. JH Kelly employees mentored instructors, providing guidance and recommendations for equipment and technology, and leading on-site tours of their company and a commercial build-site for students and teachers to gain real-world experience of the construction workplace.

IBEW 48 is sponsoring the program to be registered, has invited district staff to participate in labor council meetings, and has provided mentoring and guidance in planning and development of the program. IBEW 48 assisted the district in developing connections and partnerships with numerous labor councils across the state and in Washington D.C. to ensure the pre-apprenticeship program is of the highest quality. In addition, IBEW 48 provided sponsorship and recommendations on the class curriculum which was developed by the National Building and Trades Council in Washington, D.C.

Due to the partnership and support of IBEW 48, Longview will be the first school district in Washington State to provide this curriculum.

“Through the generous support and dedication of JH Kelly and IBEW 48 in this partnership, Longview students and the Cowlitz County workforce will be positively impacted now and in the future,” said Jill Diehl, Director of Career and College Readiness at Longview School District.

“Business investment in developing and supporting partnerships to train the next generation of workers is key to the continued growth of our region,” said Workforce Southwest Washington CEO Kevin Perkey. “The Longview School District pre-apprenticeship program is helping fill a critical skills gap in our region while expanding opportunities for local youth to prepare to enter an apprenticeship or the workforce.”

  • North American Tarp, LLC received the Innovation in Workforce Development Award for its commitment to creating opportunities for jobs and career pathway exploration for individuals with barriers to employment, especially those who have been justice involved or are recovering from addiction.

Established in 2001, North American Tarp manufacturers vinyl products, including truck tarps, bags, enclosures, containment, sporting equipment, and personal coverings of any kind.

CEO Logan Hornung believes in second chances and says his business is modeled around helping people who want help. Many that have been employed at North American Tarp over the years have had run-ins with the legal system or are in a recovery program. Hornung is committed to helping his employees succeed and allows them schedule flexibility to attend meetings or appointments to help them stay on track. He also mentors employees on the soft skills needed to maintain employment such as working when scheduled, arriving on time, producing while at work and attention to detail.

Hornung works closely with Donna Hughes at WorkSource and has hosted work experiences and on-the-job trainings, hiring new employees through these programs. He continues to grow the business and hire more individuals with a desire to be part of a team environment.

Having spent years going into prisons and treatment facilities where he says he met some of the most highly-intelligent and creatively-brilliant people, Hornung says, “You’re a mentor and build relationships. You build a bond for life. It’s who we are, not what we do.”

“I’m proud WSW’s investments in WorkSource are enabling North American Tarp to hire local talent and invest in developing the skills of its employees,” said Workforce Southwest Washington CEO Kevin Perkey. “Businesses that provide employment to individuals overcoming barriers are helping to create a region where the opportunity for prosperity and growth exists for all,” continued Perkey.

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Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW), a nonprofit organization founded in 2002, contributes to regional economic growth by providing investments and resources to improve the skills and education of the workforce in Clark, Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties. WSW-funded programs operated by WorkSource and community-based organizations help businesses find and hire the employees they need and provide people with the skills, education and training to find work or advance in their careers. Learn more at