Tallapoosa County is now home to a unique job after Monday’s county commission meeting.
The Tallapoosa County Extension Office announced during the meeting Dawn Smith will serve as the outreach administrator for the county’s workforce development outreach programs.
The position marks the first of its kind in the state, according to county extension coordinator Shane Harris. Harris said all 67 county offices with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System dedicate resources to workforce development, but the role Smith assumed Monday will solely prioritize Tallapoosa County’s labor market.
“We have some specialists in this area, but there is now a full-time position dedicated to this particular area,” he said.
Harris officially requested funding from the commission for the position in September 2022 following a county extension advisory committee meeting last summer, which identified workforce as the top need in the county.
“Community leaders came together, we talked to our constituents, and the commission voted this as the No. 1 issue,” Harris said.
Nine months later, Dawn Smith is officially on board and said she’s prepared for her new role given her previous experience as an assistant agent with the extension office’s 4-H program.
Sign up for our Free Newsletters
Success! An email has been sent to with a link to confirm list signup.
Error! There was an error processing your request.
In that capacity, Smith aided youth development from elementary- to high school-aged students, and specifically charted an 11th-grade program dedicated to workforce preparation. Among skills she taught included resume and cover letter writing, job interview techniques and financial management skills.
However, in her new role, she plans to advise both youth and adults in the workforce.
“What I'm trying to accomplish, mostly with adults, is getting them in contact with opportunities and to better their skills, but also see how we can help companies with their current staff or help them find pools of employees,” Smith said.
Tallapoosa County Commissioner Steve Robinson said current economic trends support the need for a permanent position.
“As a county, we have a lot of opportunities in front of us in terms of economic development, both retail, construction, and hospitality jobs as we continue onboarding hotels, food services, and restaurants,” he said. “We struggle, however, with getting a retainable workforce.”
The decision to fund the full-time position served as a proactive measure, Robinson said.
“It does make us unique in the way we're looking at workforce development,” he said. “Strategically, we don't want to wait until business fails because they can't find employees, so we want to get ahead and develop our workforce.”