Media Contact: Laura Byrnes, APR, CPRC
Communications Manager
Direct: 352.291.9559 Mobile: 352.816.1264
[email protected]

OCALA, Fla. (April 22, 2021) – Duke Energy and the Ocala/Metro Chamber and Economic Partnership were recognized today with Bridging the Gap awards for going above and beyond to build the regional workforce by closing gaps in skills, training and opportunity.

The awards were presented by CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion CEO Rusty Skinner at the State of the Workforce Virtual Conference: Recover, Redesign, Rework. The conference was put on by CareerSource CLM in partnership with the Ocala Human Resource Management Association.

Skinner said that Duke and the CEP earned honors for their “strong commitment to supporting the talent supply needs of businesses through fostering collaboration and communication between business and education.”

The State of the Workforce Conference brought together businesses, community and public partners, education leaders and HR professionals, to identify ways the region’s businesses may begin to recover from the impacts of the pandemic on the workforce, redesign how the workplace may function moving forward, and rework ways to build the talent pipeline to meet in-demand and emerging needs.

Two companies were recognized this year because the 2020 conference was canceled due to the pandemic.

Skinner said that among its many “K to Career” educational and workforce development initiatives, Duke provided CareerSource CLM two grants to produce videos that help power awareness of public schools’ career and technical education programs as well as CTE programs offered by the College of Central Florida.

Dorothy Pernu, Duke’s manager of government and community relations, said Duke Energy is “committed to ensuring that our organization has a workforce development strategy that enables the company to build a skilled, qualified and very talented diverse pipeline.”

“We couldn’t accomplish that without CareerSource CLM, our school boards throughout Citrus, Levy and Marion counties as well as our state College of Central Florida and so many others,” Pernu said in accepting the award on behalf of Duke.

In recognizing the CEP, Skinner said that over the past several years the organization has been “active in both education and creating the career opportunities that reward that education to our area students and job seekers.”

Among myriad career education initiatives that lead to a “talented and trained workforce,” Skinner lauded the CEP’s longstanding partnership with CF, Marion County Public Schools, and the Public Education Foundation of Marion County as well as CareerSource CLM and others to plan support the annual Youth Career Expo.

Kevin T. Sheilley, CEP president and CEO, said that “being able to partner businesses with our schools and education providers has been the key to success.”

Sheilley accepted the Bridging the Gap award along with Kevin McDonald, a longtime member of the CEP board of directors including its past chairman.

Sheilley said that it was McDonald who “pushed, encouraged, shoved, required us to look at education and how we engaged businesses.”

The inaugural Bridging the Gap award was presented in 2019 to Capris Furniture, the Marion County Board of County Commissioners Fleet Management Department, Raney’s Truck Center, and R+L Global Logistics for helping drive the success of the region’s locally based Commercial Driving Program offered by Marion Technical College.


CareerSource Citrus Levy Marion is a member of CareerSource Florida and a proud partner of the American Job Center network. CareerSource CLM is supported by the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and other agencies as part of awards totaling $8.7 million (revised annually). CareerSource CLM is an equal opportunity employer/program. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities and in Spanish. All voice telephone numbers listed above may be reached by persons using TTY/TDD equipment via the Florida Relay Service at 711. If you need accommodations, please call 800-434-5627, ext. 7878 or e-mail [[email protected]][email protected].

The Ocala Human Resource Management Association (OHRMA) is a nonprofit organization of human resource professional from the Marion County community affiliated with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), an international organization of more than 180,000. 

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