Recognition & Awards
Each year, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) highlights and recognizes the outstanding achievements of Local Workforce Development Boards during an annual award ceremony at its annual workforce conference. Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas is honored to recognize local employers for their contributions to the workforce. Congratulations to our 2022 winners and nominees!
2022 LARGE EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR WINNER
Since 1904, Ascension Providence has provided quality healthcare for an expanding and changing Heart of Texas region. A growing economy requires a growing network of skilled healthcare workers. Ascension Providence is one of the largest employers in the region with over 3,100 employees and aggressively works to maintain their mission of providing excellent healthcare by investing in staff, developing healthcare career pathways, and contributing to economic development. Over the last 12 months, the company hired 592 individuals.
As one of the founding partners for Waco ISD’s Greater Waco Advanced Health Care Academy (GWAHCA), Ascension Providence serves as a training partner by helping high school students obtain nurse aide and pharmacy technician certifications. A nursing Registered Apprenticeship program is also in the works with Ascension and Workforce Solutions. These programs provide entry level career pathways to multiple healthcare occupations and help close the gap in this labor market.
Ascension Providence has previously partnered with Workforce Solutions and McLennan Community College (MCC) to provide upskilling for its employees and is currently participating in a Skills Development Grant with MCC to upgrade the skills of 187 incumbent employees.
Ascension Providence is also considering a partnership with Workforce Solutions to provide incumbent worker training to create career pathways from entry level opportunities to specialized occupations in health care. These discussions have also opened potential opportunities to develop Registered Apprenticeships as an additional pathway to a diverse health care industry.
Ascension Providence participates in hiring fairs and hosts recruiting events at their facility in coordination with Workforce Solutions. Ascension Providence actively uses WorkInTexas.com for recruiting talent and is always willing to participate in additional initiatives to develop our future workforce. They are an annual sponsor of the YES! Expo, which is the premier career exploration event for youth in our region.
Ascension Providence is a great community partner who is committed to improving lives and developing the health care industry’s workforce. They are extremely involved in community enrichment projects in our region.
Large Employer of the Year Award
TWC’s Large Employer of the Year Award honors a large private-sector employer whose efforts and initiatives have an extraordinary effect on the state of Texas, workers, other employers, and the communities in which the employer does business. The nomination should recognize a large employer (500 employees or more) that is a customer of the workforce system and has created or used innovative approaches to best support the mission of the Texas workforce system to ensure Texas remains economically competitive. Employers are nominated for their initiatives that have a positive effect on current workers, future workers, and/or workers with challenges that may make transitioning into the workforce difficult, such as unemployment insurance claimants, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients, previously incarcerated individuals, separating military personnel, and individuals with disabilities.
2022 LOCAL EMPLOYER OF EXCELLENCE WINNER
ENCOMPASS HEALTH REHABILITATION HOSPITAL OF WACO
Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Waco received the 2022 Local Employer of Excellence award, which is awarded to one private-sector employer from each of the state’s 28 local Workforce Development Boards. The award honors employers for the positive impact their efforts and initiatives have on their workers, community and other local employers.
Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Waco is a national leader in integrated healthcare services offering facility- and home-based patient care through its medical network.
Encompass Health opened its 40-bed inpatient rehabilitation hospital in Robinson in August 2021 and has since been an integral part of the Heart of Texas workforce development efforts by participating in local hiring fairs and future workforce initiatives such as the annual YES! Expo, the premier career exploration event for youth. Encompass Health currently employs 141 team members and plans to increase their local workforce significantly.
“Encompass Health is very intentional in making every employee a part of the team through their on-boarding process, which helps to retain employees and make them competitive in the marketplace,” said Jose Palacios, business solutions manager for Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas. “Their partnership is important to the growth and competitiveness of our workforce, and we are pleased to recognize them for their ongoing efforts.”
Local Employer of Excellence Award
TWC’s Local Employer of Excellence Award honors one private-sector employer in each local workforce development area (workforce area) whose efforts and initiatives, in relationship with the Texas workforce system, had a positive effect on workers, the community, and other employers. Employers who, as a customer of and collaborator with the Local Workforce Development Board (Board), created or used innovative approaches to support the Texas workforce system’s mission statement and help ensure Texas remains competitive. Describe your nominee’s involvement with the Texas workforce system and how this partnership benefited your workforce area.
2022 HIREABILITY EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR WINNER
The 2022 HireAbility Employer of the Year Award was awarded to Caterpillar Logistics Services, Inc (Cat Logistics), a 500,000 square foot parts distribution center in Waco. This award honors a private-sector employer for using innovative approaches to foster an inclusive workforce and hire Texans with disabilities.
Cat Logistics partnered with the local Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Services to implement the Skills Training to Employment Project (STEP) within their organization. Through this program, Cat Logistics provided paid work experience for individuals with disabilities to receive training in warehouse operations. Cat Logistics worked closely with participating individuals to ensure successful training and completion of the program.
STEP’s first cohort resulted in the hiring of three individuals with disabilities, and with new cohorts coming online this summer, employment numbers are expected to grow.
“It is encouraging to see a prominent employer in our community lead the way for an inclusive work environment,” said Palacios. “Caterpillar, with the help of our local Workforce Solutions office, has created a replicable model for other employers in our area to provide employment to individuals with disabilities. “
JAG Aviation was also recognized by TWC as a finalist for the 2022 Small Employer of the Year Award, which is awarded to one private-sector employer with fewer than 500 employees for its impact on the local workforce.
“Our employer partnerships are important in our joint effort of supporting and improving our local workforce,” Palacios said. “We are proud of all of our award nominees and winners, and we thank them for their efforts and partnerships.”
HireAbility Employer of the Year Award
TWC’s HireAbility Employer of the Year Award honors a private-sector employer whose initiatives have had a positive impact on the state of Texas, workers, other employers, and the communities in which the employer does business by promoting successful employment opportunities for talented and dedicated Texans with disabilities. Nominees are a customer of the workforce system and use innovative approaches to foster an inclusive workforce and hire Texans with disabilities. The employer’s initiatives have positively impacted current and future workers and the employer has worked with the Local Workforce Development Board (Board) and Texas Workforce Solutions-Vocational Rehabilitation Services staff to ensure access to Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) services, referrals, and employment opportunities for VR customers.
2022 SMALL EMPLOYER OF THE YEAR FINALIST
JAG Aviation was nominated and selected as a finalist for the 2022 Small Employer of the Year Award, which is awarded to one Texas private-sector employer with fewer than 500 employees for the positive effect its initiatives have on current workers, future workers, and/or workers with challenges that may make transitioning into the workforce difficult.
As a full-service Fixed Base Operator (FBO), JAG Aviation provides avionics services, fueling, aircraft management, and other convenience services to aircraft owners from all parts of the world. Initially, the company started out as a small aircraft maintenance operation based in Waco but expanded its operations in 2014 to the McGregor Executive Airport where it now employs a 25-person crew.
“JAG Aviation has contributed to the Texas workforce system with the hiring of five full-time employees over the past year,” said Jose Palacios, business solutions manager for Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas. “In addition, partnering with Workforce Solutions, JAG Aviation takes full advantage of all the services offered them such as participation in hiring events and hiring fairs hosted by Workforce Solutions.”
JAG Aviation has also provided continuous training to its employees to help in career advancement, providing real, hands-on work experience for aviation students at Baylor University and Texas State Technical College, as well as taking extra consideration to provide employment opportunities to ex-offenders and applicants with minimal experience.
Active membership in the Greater Waco and McGregor chambers of commerce are other partnerships JAG Aviation leverages to successfully promote career opportunities within the highly targeted aviation industry.
“A huge thank you to Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas,” said General Manager Jennifer Kid. “Our relationship with Workforce Solutions for the Heart of Texas is strong. They’re a great resource, and we are honored to be one of their nominees.”
Small Employer of the Year Award
TWC’s Small Employer of the Year Award honors a small private-sector employer whose efforts and initiatives have an extraordinary effect on the state of Texas, workers, other employers, and the communities in which the employer does business. Small employers (fewer than 500 employees) who are customes of the workforce system are recognized for creating or using innovative approaches to best support the mission of the Texas workforce system to help ensure Texas remains competitive. Nominees use initiatives that have a positive effect on current workers, future workers, and/or workers with challenges that may make transitioning into the workforce difficult (for example, unemployment insurance claimants, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients, previously incarcerated individuals, separating military personnel, and individuals with disabilities).
>> 2018 Adult Education and Literacy Partnership Award
>> 2018 Texas HireAbility Award
>> 2017 Service to Business Award
>> 2017 Service to Workers Award
>> 2017 Industry Sector Outreach Award
>> 2017 Youth Inspiration & Career Awareness Award
>> 2017 Texas HireAbility Award
>> 2017 Texas Rising Star Award
>> 2016 Service to Workers Award
>> 2016 Child Care Quality Award