GASTONIA, N.C. – The Gaston County Department of Social Services SEALs Family Assistance Team and the Gaston County Minority and Women Business Enterprise/Historically Underutilized Business (MWBE/HUB) program each received Innovation Awards in Civic Excellence from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC).
The NCACC held its 116th Annual Conference August 24-26, 2023, at the Raleigh Convention Center. Gaston County was awarded two of the 10 awards from NCACC, the maximum allowable.
The SEALs Team, which is part of the County’s Work First Family Assistance Program, won an award for its work with the Haitian refugee population. This diverse group has grown considerably in recent years in Gaston County. Many of these individuals relocate here with the desire to work, be productive and assimilate into the community, but they often lack the skills to become self-sufficient.
Work First collaborated with multiple organizations to assist these families to achieve their goals, which include becoming employed, learning English, and gaining some understanding of the services that are available to Gaston County residents. Some of the initiatives implemented to help the Haitian community include transportation classes, ESL classes, building skills for job search, and more.
The Gaston County MWBE/HUB program won an award for its innovative approach to increasing contracts participation among minority and women-owned businesses. Due to a lack of participation and inclusion of these businesses in Gaston County’s construction contracting services, county leadership identified the primary causes and took action to address the issue effectively.
Gaston County’s MWBE/HUB program, since April 2022, has increased participation rates by 157% compared to the previous year; met its goal of achieving a 10% participation rate for construction projects $300,000 and up, as set by the Board of Commissioners; and increased the number of HUB-certified vendors residing in Gaston County by 31%.
The NCACC is the official voice of all 100 NC counties on issues considered by the General Assembly, Congress, and federal and state agencies. Its Annual Conference is the Association’s premier educational event and offers all county commissioners and administrative staff the opportunity to come together and honor the good work done by counties across the state.