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Bridgemont aims to boost telecommuting

Bridgemont Community and Technical College is launching an initiative aimed at increasing the number of work-from-home jobs in rural West Virginia.

College leaders joined about 100 invited guests at the Clay Center Monday evening for the launch of Telework West Virginia, which is being run by the school's Distance Earning Program.

Officials hope the program will increase the number of state teleworkers - people who regularly telecommute by working from home or a local third place one or more days a week.

The program is designed to train residents for telework positions, develop a database of employers who offer legitimate work-from-home positions, and foster the growth of home-based businesses in rural communities.

"The long-term goal is that we have a database that matches employees with job opportunities," said program director Holly Clark.

According to U.S. Census data, 70 percent of state residents live in communities with fewer than 2,500 people.

Program directors hope they can stem the "brain-drain" caused by skilled workers leaving these rural areas to pursue jobs.

They also say working via broadband or wireless connections can open new employment opportunities for less-mobile residents.

"Telecommuting provides economic opportunities for employees in rural areas, including service disabled veterans and others with disabilities, and older workers who desire to remain in or reenter the workforce," Chuck Wilsker, president of the Telework Coalition, said in a statement.

Wilsker said employers benefit by saving on real estate and overhead expenses associated with hiring workers for their offices.

Clark said the program would help teach employers to maximize the benefits of telecommuting.

"Our hope is that we give employers an opportunity learn about the world of telecommuting, because there's a lot of misconceptions about that," she said.

As part of the program, Bridgemont will host a 15-week program on business incubation and telework training in partnership with the city of Ansted.

The program will cover a variety of topics, including basic business courses, computer technology and entrepreneurship.  

Contact writer Jared Hunt at business@dailymail.com or 304-348-4836. 

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