TATT Chat, November 5th, 2020

    TATT Chat, November 5th, 2020

    Welcome Terence Roberts

    Speaker Jordana Megonigal, CEO of The RECON Network

    You can view a recap of the meeting here.

    RECON focuses on veterans transitioning to civilian life

    RECON helps veterans transition to meaningful careers with purpose, including physical and mental health for vets and spouses

    Summit 11/19-11/20 will include tracks for vets, spouses, and companies looking for employees

    Veterans Ascend platform (locally owned) predicts career fit to 98.2%

    Q & A

    1. Are there financial incentives and tax benefits to hiring veterans? Yes! Learn more at the summit. There are work opportunity tax credits for those who are WOTC certified from $2,400-$9,600 per year. Must be set up in advance, not retroactive to post-hire.
    2. SC Works can help with hiring. What is new programs? Programs have not changed, are usually focused on benefits to be received vs. career transition. There are 1,800 organizations in SC, the trick is to find the right one.
    3. What help is out there for veterans’ spouses? Spouses’ resumes have gaps due to moving and role as support staff. https://www.veterans.gov/milspouses/
    4. What is the reach of RECON? Focus is in the U.S. with the assistance of networks.
    5. Is there a list of veteran owned businesses? Hard to find because of parameters – must apply for status or have been served by VA. https://avosba.org/avoba-membership/veteran-owned-businesses-by-state/ & https://www.veteranownedbusiness.com/
    6. Is there certification reciprocity in SC? Legislation is being discussed across the nation.
    7. What is the relationship to higher education? While education is a huge factor, RECON is not currently involved in SCACE.
    8. How is RECON funded? RECON is funded through events (many cancelled in 2020) and corporate partners.

    Abbeville: Shannon Sears, WCTel

    4 million dollar waste treatment, water treatment project

    12 million dollar housing investment in downtown Abbeville, new businesses downtown

    City back to normal pre-COVID operations

    WCFIBER and Blue Ridge Electric offering high speed internet to customers. 67000 customers, some of them underserved by internet

    Frannie Stockwell, Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce:

    Job Fair Nov 19th for all of Cherokee County: Dollar Tree, Natl Guard, Brown Pack, UPsource, Home Fashion, school district

    Survey recently sent out regarding need and interest in public transportation

    Small businesses opening in the county and the mall is renting out spaces to small businesses

    Meeting with Catawba Indians to partner on 85/transportation and projects

    Roy Costner, Pickens County Council

    COVID spiking

    Unemployment is down to 3.5%

    Working on Hurricane Zeta clean up; 60 roads were closed, 54 are open
    Grant acquired to build a pull off viewpoint for Table Rock, the most photographed location in the state

    Working on a broadband initiative

    New partnership with Clemson Paws

    Pickens held a drive through job fair today

    Sara Butler from USC Upstate/Spartanburg County:

    COVID procedures being followed strategically, particularly with uptick in cases

    USC task forces formed and lots of communication from staff/admin

    Many services are available, testing, counseling (dealing with Covid, loss (financial, emotional, losing a family member))

    Resources are available to students and faculty

    USC is adapting and surviving by providing live, online, and hybrid options

    Katherine Pendergrass, Union County:
    USC enrollment in Union County has doubled

    Honorable mention for the J Mitchell Graham award having to do with higher education and workforce training

    KJ is replacing Bi-Lo and Rose’s opening

    Alcohol sales on Sunday was approved so restaurants may want to be opening downtown

    Several events upcoming, drive in movie, coon hunt, Union Reads, Christmas parade

    Jonesville will share their comprehensive plan in December and Union will post for the public next week

    2020 VET Summit Focused on Veteran Hiring Coming November 19-20

    2020 VET Summit Focused on Veteran Hiring Coming November 19-20

    Jordana Megonigal, Founder of The RECON Network

    Across the state of South Carolina, there are almost a half million veterans—although there are  likely far more who go uncounted by the VA. While we in the Upstate may feel somewhat removed from this community due to the fact that we don’t have a large active military base locally, the reality is that the military community in South Carolina generates one out of every 12 jobs in the state, and with a statewide economic impact of more than $25 billion each year ($2.2 Billion of that in the Upstate alone), has proven vital to our economic well-being across the state.

    With this information, there is a high focus on employing veterans as part of an elite workforce—especially in South Carolina, where manufacturing, logistics and cyber security are significant boons to our local economy. However, the realities facing those making that transition from active military to veteran status can be hard. It’s about far more than simply “finding a job,” as this transition isn’t simply a career change; in many cases the servicemember is also navigating changes in family, location, career, and housing—all at the same time. And that’s not even mentioning the emotional and mental shifts that accompany transition, as well.

    To add to the challenges, when it comes to veteran hiring after transition, there are systemic gaps between expectation and reality—for both veterans and hiring companies. Veterans—many who have been told that “everyone hires vets”, oftentimes exit the military with rose-colored glasses, expecting job offers to fall into their laps, only to be disappointed when the job-finding path takes months, or even years.  When they do find one, their lack of civilian expertise slots them into entry-level positions, virtually ignoring their years of experience—most of which is translatable to a civilian position if someone in HR only knows how to look at it.

    On the other side, companies also face challenges—different cultures and different vocabularies make qualifying candidates complicated. In order to successfully hire veterans, HR professionals must spend extra time translating experience or understanding military culture and rank hierarchy in order to balance the job opportunity on behalf of the veteran applicant. The alternative is to keep doing “business as usual,” where more often than not a veteran’s resume won’t make it into the pile of resumes in an already overloaded hiring department.

    But these are only a few examples; from finding to hiring and retaining veterans in the workforce, there are real challenges that can only be rectified when both entities are working toward common ground.

    At The RECON Network, which started humbly in Greenville in 2015 and has grown into a nationally-focused organization serving veterans and military spouses across the U.S., we believe that starting these conversations is just as important as addressing the “human element” of transition—that of purpose, well-being, motivation and meaning. That’s why in 2019 we partnered with SC SHRM to begin the first Veteran Employment and Transition (VET) Summit, funded in part by a grant from the SHRM Foundation.  In 2020, with the cancellation of live events due to COVID-19, the VET Summit is set to be a much larger, two-day virtual event, providing valuable information that can help us come together for the benefit of veterans seeking employment.

    With three tracks—one for transitioning service members and veterans, another for military spouses, and a third focused on hiring companies, the VET Summit is designed to educate and provide real-life resources for each of these entities, with the overall goal of getting our military and veteran communities back into the workforce. Hiring companies will learn more about translating skills, hiring military spouses, and Workforce Opportunity Tax Credits (which offer real financial incentives for hiring veterans). Veterans and military spouses will focus on various tools and resources designed to help them stand out in a job search, find a meaningful career path, and what a post-COVID workforce looks like.

    Even with all the resources available, we have room to grow. With 55 percent of veterans listing finding a job as their top transition challenge (The Institute for Veterans and Military Families), and with 44 percent leaving their first job post-military within the first year (Hiring our Heroes), there is still much to do. The VET Summit—and events like it—are the types of events we need to reduce gaps in veteran hiring and ensure that those who served our country, can continue on in a career within a robust workforce. I hope to see you there this November.

    Jordana Megonigal is a writer, business owner, and founder of The RECON Network, which is focused on purpose-based transition and career planning resources for veterans and military spouses, including The VET Summit. She is based out of Moore, South Carolina.


    2020 VET Summit


    November 19-20, 2020


    Registration: Free for veterans, transitioning servicemembers, and military spouses; $35 for hiring companies (CEOs, HR professionals, staffing agencies, etc.)

    Fluor Greenville COVID-19 Response

    Fluor Greenville COVID-19 Response

    Fluor’s Greenville office is the largest and most diverse of all its offices with approximately 1600 employees supporting most of the markets Fluor serves, including Government, Mining and Metals, Infrastructure, Advanced Technologies, Advanced Manufacturing, Life Sciences and Chemicals.  Additionally, there are a number of Corporate and Functional groups located here.

    When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, we were executing a wide range of projects for Clients around the world. These projects ranged from small to mega in size and were in various stages of design completion. Some of these projects were specifically being developed to produce COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutic treatments, which brings us great pride in helping these companies help to conquer this virus.

    As a global Engineering, Procurement, Construction Management (EPCM) company, one of our Core Values is Safety, embodied in Health, Safety and Environmental principles. That said, our number one focus was on the health and safety of our employees, followed by the successful execution of our ongoing projects.

    Since much of our business is considered “essential,” notably the Life Sciences, Infrastructure and Government work we opted to remain “open for business,” while aggressively drawing down the resources in the office and sending employees home to work.  Within one week, we surveyed every employee’s equipment and identified gaps which would prevent them from being able to execute their job remotely. Our information technology and engineering teams worked around the clock to fulfill each individual’s needs- ranging from remote access tokens, to laptops and other hardware required to enable the heavy 3D CAD design work remotely.  In parallel, we established a Greenville based COVID 19 Task Force which worked in tandem with the Corporate Task Force to leverage learnings and best practices, which seemed to be changing daily.

    Within three weeks, we had reduced the headcount in our two office buildings to an average of sixty per day, or 3-4% of the total population. We initiated security protocols to manage the headcount and updated our facility plans with engineered and administrative controls to reduce any transmission risk.  We rolled out our infection control plan with an increased schedule for sanitizing and disinfecting, enhanced air quality, modified safe practices for COVID-19, and a significant signage campaign, while providing frequent communications to all employees.

    Additionally, we added daily touchless electronic temperature testing and health screening as requirements for access.

    Within the next few months, we also quickly redefined how we execute projects. That is, how we optimize collaboration and innovation while working in our own homes versus doing what we’ve always done sitting right next to each other for the last hundred years. We established a number of  teams to  identify deficiencies and opportunities and to develop practices to enhance our “Work from Home (WFH),” protocols. By all accounts, this new “normal” is working and our Clients are supportive. To date, we have had no projects canceled and we are seeing a new wave in project commitments fueling the backlog in 2021.

    The resilience and flexibility of our employees has been impressive and also a catalyst for change “post pandemic.” We fully believe that a hybrid platform which includes some “work from home” and some “work from office” will be the way of the future and help us attract and retain the best talent in the industry.