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Initiative will connect residents with remote job opportunities

By Richard Rourk

The Joint Economic and Community Development Board of Unicoi County (JECDB) and Erwin Fiber have been selected to participate in TVA’s new Remote Work Ready Pilot Program, according to JECDB Executive Director Tyler Engle.

“The program, developed by TVA Economic Development, in partnership with FlexJobs, is designed to connect residents with additional remote work job opportunities and assist communities in diversifying their economic development strategy,” Engle said.

The initiative, which was presented to the JECDB during its July 22 meeting, provides the JECDB and Erwin Fiber with free FlexJobs memberships, which offer such benefits as:

• A search feature to explore “vetted” jobs of potential interest in 50-plus career fields;

• More than 170 jobs skills tests that can be taken limitless times to showcase/improve career abilities;

• Webinars with career experts and hiring managers to help in job searches;

• Special notification for early registration to members-only access FlexJobs Virtual Job Fairs, hiring events and special employer spotlight webinars;

• Alert emails that match remote and flexible jobs related to a member’s profile; and

• A personal dashboard to help stay organized, motivated, and educated.

“A community’s ability to adapt to changing workforce needs is critical in the ever-evolving world of economic development,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said during a July 20 press release. “Understanding that remote work can provide opportunities for a community to build its talent pipeline can really be impactful to economic success, and TVA is proud to continue to provide innovative solutions for job opportunities in the valley.”

TVA Economic Development Program Manager Melissa Halsell explained that this program is the largest remote work search site in the world during the JECDB July 22 meeting.

“Unicoi County will be one of seven communities selected for this program,” Halsell said. “Each of the seven communities will receive 50 free memberships to distribute to county residents interested in finding remote employment online that will fit their specific skill sets.”

Following the July 22 JECDB meeting, Engle discussed the benefits of flex jobs.

“This allows for employment opportunities for those in Unicoi County to jobs that are from Dallas (Texas) to Dubai (United Arab Emirates,)” Engle said. “Folks would be able to apply their expertise to companies that we may have not been able to attract to Unicoi County physically and they would be able to do so without having to uproot their family and move.”

Engle acknowledged that these jobs would be the wave of the future.

“We are headed to remote work and these flex jobs have everything from entry level to executive level opportunities,” Engle said. “Having Erwin Fiber was a major reason that we attract programs like this, because people now know that we have cutting edge fiber speed here in Unicoi County.”

According to Engle, this partnership with the TVA leverages the very best Unicoi County has to offer.

“Our strong workforce and Erwin Fiber’s state-of-the-art fiber are the premise for this system,” Engle said. “It is a privilege to be included in this pilot program and we look forward to the continued advancement of the prosperity of the people of Unicoi County.”

The Tennessee Valley Authority is a corporate agency of the United States that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies serving 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states. TVA receives no taxpayer funding, deriving virtually all of its revenues from sales of electricity. In addition to operating and investing its revenues in its electric system, TVA provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists local power companies and state and local governments with economic development and job creation. More information is available at

FlexJobs is a premium online job service for professionals seeking flexible work, specializing in full-time and part-time remote jobs, employee and freelance jobs, and on-site jobs with flexible, part-time, and alternative schedules. Since its start in 2007, FlexJobs has helped more than 4 million people in their job searches and has created the largest vetted database of legitimate flexible job opportunities in over 50 career categories. In addition, FlexJobs provides robust career support, including curated expert resources and career coaching services, to partner with job seekers in all phases of their journey.

The Joint Economic Development Board of Unicoi County was established in 1987 to advance the prosperity of the people of Unicoi County. The Joint Economic Development Board of Unicoi County is a founding member of the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership and aligns its economic goals with broader regional efforts to promote sustainable economic development in Upper East Tennessee.

For more information on workforce programs and other opportunities in Unicoi County, please write or telephone Engle at [email protected] or 743-9555 or visit

More information on this program can be found at, beginning Aug. 10, for those interested. There will be provided information on resume writing, remote job opportunities and in-demand skills for remote jobs at beginning Aug. 10, when the website goes live.