Chamber Chat - Belflex

Apr 09

By Meg Moss



I love it when a community comes together. And that’s what Sanford-Lee County does when they see a need. A common theme we’ve been hearing from employers is their need for employees who are ready for work; people who have the soft skills they need to be successful in the workplace. It is often local businesses that rise to the occasion when there is a need, and that is the case with the Belflex Junior Mentorship Program (BJMP).


Sanford was chosen this year by the BelFlex Staffing Network (BelFlex) to be a part of the BJMP to help meet the need for “ready to go” employees. Belflex is a staffing and workforce solutions firm that provides temporary, temp-to-hire and full-time light industrial employees to businesses across the U.S.


According to the Belfex website, the BJMP program originated in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in 2015 and was launched in Middletown, Ohio in 2016. Due to the success and impact of the program in these two cities, the company announced it would be expanding the BJMP into five more cities in 2017. The cities chosen were: Chattanooga, Tennessee, Cleveland, Tennessee, Florence, Kentucky, Louisville, Kentucky and Sanford, North Carolina. Ann Hollingsworth from Belflex was instrumental in the program’s success in Tuscaloosa and Middletown, and has been promoted to Community Outreach Manager and will drive the expansion. Hollingsworth came to Sanford to meet with our Mayor, Chet Mann, City Councilman JD Williams, the Sanford Herald, Lee County United Way, the Sanford Area Growth Alliance and others to announce the program, and explain how it would work.


In each designated city, BelFlex partners with a local high school and several area businesses to help prepare students to be confident, poised and ready for employment. In our case, Belflex partnered with Lee County High School and Bragg Street Academy. During the seven-week program, a select group of juniors and seniors learned a range of skills including how to write a resume, hunt for a job and dress professionally. Additionally, each student had the opportunity to participate in mock interviews with business leaders, and take a tour of a local manufacturing facility.


Through the Chamber Education and Workforce Development Committee, there was a connection made with the Triangle South Workforce Development Board, where students in the BJMP program will be able to receive long-term assistance with educational and vocational goals. Belflex also received help from our local Walmart, who supplied snacks for the students during each of the sessions, and a cake for the students’ graduation from the program. Our local Belk store, managed by Caroline Raudenbush, not only provided an interview outfit for each student, but they also fitted each student so they can put their best foot forward when going for interviews. For example, the young men were taught how long to wear their tie, and how long their jacket sleeves should be.


The program, which was established to teach young adults professionalism in the workplace, has already graduated 52 high school students nationwide, helping them become more confident and employable.


 “I have seen firsthand the positive impact the BelFlex Junior Mentoring Program has on these young lives and feel tremendously fortunate to watch even more students benefit from this journey,” said Hollingsworth. “The support we have received from the high schools and local businesses has been a significant contributor to the program’s success.”


At the graduation, which took place this past Thursday, students were given a list of resources available for ongoing programs that may help them reach their goals. Included in the list was the Boys and Girls Clubs, the Job Seekers group through First Baptist Church, and the Jobs for Life program through the Salvation Army, just to name a few. They were given contact information for Christians United Outreach Center in the event the student’s family is in need of assistance with food. And last but not least, each graduate received a voucher for one class at Central Carolina Community College.


It’s the partnerships like these that make a difference in our community. The BJMP brought together Lee County Schools with businesses, as well as other local programming to make a positive impact on the fifteen students who participated in the program. 

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