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Ainsworth taps Peoples, Smith for workforce commission

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth this week tapped two state energy executives for a special panel on workforce development.

Alabama Power Company CEO Jeff Peoples and PowerSouth Energy Cooperative CEO Gary Smith will serve on the Lieutenant Governor’s Commission on 21st Century Workforce.

The commission was created in 2019 with the mission of assessing Alabama’s workforce conditions and making recommendations for ways to improve competitiveness. The years since have seen historic upheaval in the job market brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The panel released a report in 2020 detailing initial recommendations, including prioritizing workforce participation and expanding engagement with businesses in aligning training curriculum.

“Because their companies are committed to meeting the needs of employers ranging from small businesses to large industrial operations and also play an important role in economic development, Jeff Peoples and Gary Smith understand the skills and training that a 21st Century workforce must possess,” Ainsworth said in a press release. “By combining their insight and experience with that of the other commission members, we can ensure Alabama remains the nation’s leader in recruiting, retaining, and expanding the long-lasting, well-paying, 21st Century jobs that every state desires.”

Smith joined PowerSouth in 1989 and was named President and CEO in January of 2000. He was previously employed by Pemco Aeroplex and also practiced law.

Peoples has held several leadership positions at Alabama Power and Southern Company. Prior to becoming CEO late last year, he worked as executive vice president for customer and employee services.

Other members of the commission include State Sen. Dan Roberts, R-Mountain Brook, State Rep. Danny Garrett, R-Trussville, State Sen. Donnie Chesteen, R-Dothan, State Sen. Linda Coleman Madison, D-Birmingham, and State Sen. Clay Scofield, R-Guntersville.

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