Ask Larry Lindsey to talk about his recent state award, and he'll shrug it off, offering no more than a humble smile. But ask him to talk about the worker training programs he has overseen for 23 years, and he'll gush about the people he has helped find work.
And that's exactly why the 100-plus employees of readySC, South Carolina's work force training program, recently voted him Employee of the Year.
Based at York Technical College in Rock Hill, Lindsey and his staff are part of a statewide initiative that teams with the S.C. Technical College System to recruit and train workers for new and expanding companies. When state and local officials are putting together incentive packages to lure employers to South Carolina, Lindsey is by their side touting South Carolina's workers and the training that's available.
Herald reporter Adam O'Daniel talked with Lindsey about his career, his passion for creating jobs and how to help more workers find local employment. Here's what he had to say:
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Q: Why is your job important?
A: We're one of the incentives the state offers to companies looking to come here. We work with the state Department of Commerce, developers and prospects. We commit to recruit and train their work force. While they're getting the factory ready, we're getting the people ready. Some states just give a company a check to help train workers, but we actually provide the training. And that's also a benefit to the people of South Carolina because we help them get the training they need for a new job. Our mission is to raise the quality of life for South Carolinians through economic development, and my piece of that is training.
Q: What are the biggest projects you've worked on?
A: When Bowater did a huge expansion back in 1986 and '87, that was a huge capital investment. They expanded and created 200 jobs. Unfortunately, they're not doing well, but Leiner Health Products needed almost 700 people, and that was big. 3D Systems, not because of the number of people, but the technology was so complex. It's not always about the numbers. Some of these smaller companies that employ 10 or 20 workers can be the best to work for. The Freightliner project that we're working on now will be a big project, too.
Q: How much impact will York Tech's future Chester campus have on training workers?
A: I think it will be a big help. Not that we haven't trained those folks already, but it is exciting to think about the possibilities. Let's face it, access is so important. We live in such a busy time. Even though opportunities are available for those residents in York County, sometimes it's just not accessible. The other thing about the Chester campus is, I think it shows the commitment of the community for job training.
Q: Where does this passion for your job that I detect come from?
A: My mission is these 35,000 people in York County alone, even more if you look at Chester and Lancaster, who drive to Charlotte to work every day. We're fortunate to have so many opportunities just up the road, but wouldn't it be great to have them working here? I believe in this job not because it's just good for me, but because it's good for South Carolina. We're investing in the citizens, not just companies. If I teach someone to weld, and that job doesn't work out, we've given that person the skills to take somewhere else and not just a check to a large company. I believe in what I do, and I love working with such a great group of people.
Q: How can York County keep more workers employed at home instead of in Charlotte?
A: We have to continue to be progressive. We have to continue educating people, building infrastructure and thinking with a regional mindset. We've been doing that -- we have some of the best schools and good roads -- but we have to continue. We can't say, 'If you decide to come here, we'll build it.' The companies we want could go anywhere in the world. You better have the facilities, the infrastructure and the training already in place. You can never stop. You never have enough.