FORGE in the News

FORGE Announces Construction Camp for Girls

FORGE, a leading organization dedicated to promoting opportunities in the skilled trades, is excited to announce its inaugural Construction Camp for Girls. The camp aims to inspire and empower young girls to explore careers in the construction industry while providing hands-on learning experiences and mentorship opportunities.

Scheduled to take place from June 17-21, 2024, at the EMCC Golden Triangle Campus, the FORGE Construction Camp for Girls will offer participants a unique opportunity to engage in various construction-related activities, including building projects, equipment demonstrations, and interactive workshops. Through these activities, participants will develop essential skills, gain confidence, and explore potential career pathways in construction.

Through an application process, girls aged 12-15 who attend public and private schools in the Golden Triangle Region have been selected to participate, ensuring a diverse and inclusive environment. The skills they learn will not only introduce them to construction trades but also equip them with life skills that will be beneficial in many aspects of their future.

“We are thrilled to launch the FORGE Construction Camp for Girls and provide young girls with a supportive environment to explore the exciting world of construction,” said Melinda Lowe, Executive Director at FORGE. “Our camp aims to break down barriers and inspire the next generation of builders, fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce in the construction industry.”

The camp curriculum was developed and will be facilitated by experienced industry professionals and educators, ensuring that participants receive high-quality instruction and mentorship throughout the program. Additionally, participants will have the opportunity to engage with female role models working in various roles within the construction industry, providing valuable insight and inspiration.

“We believe that by introducing young girls to the construction industry at an early age, we can help them envision a future where they can thrive and succeed in traditionally male-dominated fields,” added Lowe.

FORGE extends its heartfelt gratitude to the numerous sponsors whose generous support has made this camp possible. Special thanks to East Mississippi Community College, the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation, GTR LINK, Milwaukee Tool, and DeWALT, whose contributions are crucial in providing these young girls with an enriching and empowering experience.

FORGE Hosts Inaugural Construction Leadership Summit

FORGE, an alliance of locally owned small businesses dedicated to fostering a sustainable and skilled construction workforce pipeline, proudly announces its inaugural Construction Leadership Summit, set to take place on Friday, February 23, 2024.

The summit aims to cultivate the next generation of leaders in the region, with a specific focus on middle and upper management, including foremen and superintendents. The goal is to nurture their development as successful individuals and, ultimately, as effective leaders within our companies and community.

“After successfully guiding 2500 8th graders through our Career Expo last October, FORGE recognized an opportunity to further nurture industry leaders, not only in the Golden Triangle Region but across Mississippi,” says FORGE Executive Director, Melinda Lowe. “Our dedication lies in fortifying partnerships and involving every facet of the pipeline to actively contribute to the educational and professional advancement of Mississippi’s future workforce. Thus, we’ve meticulously crafted an event that goes beyond the ordinary – it’s a milestone in leadership evolution. This summit demonstrates our dedication to driving innovation, fostering collaboration, and empowering the next generation of construction leaders.”

The leadership summit will unfold in the historic and charismatic setting of the Lyceum at Lee in Columbus, MS. This gathering isn’t just another conference; it’s a convergence of ideas, expertise, and visionary thinking.

Wally Adamchik, founder and president of Firestarter Speaking & Consulting, known for his dynamic and engaging speaking style, will deliver the keynote address. With unmatched expertise in construction leadership and communication, Wally promises invaluable insights that will not only inspire but also invigorate all participants.

In addition to the keynote, the summit will feature eminent speakers exploring essential topics such as optimizing productivity through improved sleep, effective wealth management strategies, and leadership development nuances.

“As a founding member of FORGE, I’m incredibly proud to see the Construction Leadership Summit come to fruition,” says Nic Parish, Vice President of Operations + Contracting at Burns Dirt. “This event marks a pivotal moment in our industry, where seasoned leaders and emerging talent converge to redefine leadership in construction. It’s a testament to FORGE’s collaborative spirit and our commitment to driving positive change.”

Attendees will not only network but also gain practical insights, actionable strategies, and access to resources to navigate the dynamic construction sector.

“We extend our heartfelt gratitude to all our sponsors, partners, and participants, especially Thompson Machinery, this year’s Title Sponsor,” adds Lowe. “Together, we are shaping the future of the construction industry.”

For more information about FORGE and the Construction Leadership Summit, please visit

FORGE Prepares Over 500 Students for Future Careers at Annual Career Interview Day


On Thursday, February 22, 2024, FORGE will host its annual Career Interview Day at the EMCC Communiversity, welcoming over 500 2nd and 3rd-year students from 11 Career and Technology Centers (CTCs). This event represents a significant initiative in preparing students for future career opportunities across various fields, including construction, culinary, business, agriculture, teaching, medical, law, and more, by providing them with practical experience and valuable insights.

Career Interview Day serves as a bridge between education and industry, offering students the invaluable opportunity to connect with over 100 interviewers from diverse sectors. These professionals will conduct mock interviews, allowing students to practice and refine their professional pitch in a supportive and interactive environment. This hands-on experience is crucial for building essential communication skills and instilling confidence in the participating students.

In addition to the mock interviews, Suzy Bowman, the recently appointed Director of Mississippi Programming for Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South, will facilitate a workshop focusing on soft skills and financial literacy. This session is designed to empower students with vital skills beyond the technical aspects of their chosen fields. Bowman is enthusiastic about assisting students in refining their professional image and enhancing their comprehension of paycheck stubs.

Another highlight of the event is the opportunity for students to receive constructive feedback on their resumes. Experienced professionals will provide feedback, contributing to the ongoing improvement of students’ job application materials.

FORGE remains steadfast in its commitment to empowering the next generation of skilled professionals by connecting them with industry leaders and providing practical insights into the workforce. Career Interview Day exemplifies this commitment, offering students a unique and immersive experience to enhance their readiness for the professional world.

“We are incredibly grateful to all of our industry partners, volunteers, and sponsors who have made Career Interview Day possible,” added FORGE Executive Director, Melinda Lowe. “Their support and commitment to empowering future leaders is truly commendable.”

For media inquiries or further information, please contact:

Melinda Lowe, Executive Director

The schools participating in the FORGE Career Interview Day are:

Choctaw County Career and Technology Center
Columbus Christian Academy
Hebron Christian School
Heritage Academy
John C. Stennis CTC (Kemper County)
Lowndes County School District CTC
McKellar Technology Center
Millsaps Career Center
Monroe County Career and Technical Center
Webster County CTC
West Point Career and Technology Center

FORGE Joined NCCER’s Careers in Construction Month Pledge, Selected Noxubee County CTC for Scholarship

FORGE, a non-profit organization committed to partnering with educators to cultivate skilled construction professionals, proudly participated in the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) and Build Your Future (BYF) Careers in Construction Month campaign last October. By signing the pledge and engaging in classroom activities, FORGE was eligible for a $1,000 scholarship drawing designated for secondary craft training programs.

We are delighted to announce that FORGE was selected as the recipient of this scholarship and has chosen the construction program at the Noxubee County Career Technology Center (CTC) as the deserving beneficiary. Situated in Macon, MS, the Noxubee County CTC is recognized for its dedication to equipping students with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in the construction industry.

Melinda Lowe, Executive Director at FORGE, expressed her enthusiasm about the opportunity to support the Noxubee County CTC, stating, “Investing in programs like those offered at the Noxubee County CTC empowers students to pursue rewarding careers in construction and shapes the future of the industry.”

The NCCER and BYF Careers in Construction Month initiative, celebrated annually in October, aims to raise awareness of the opportunities available in the construction sector while emphasizing the importance of skilled trades.

FORGE extends its gratitude to NCCER and BYF for their support and recognition, as well as to the Noxubee County CTC for their commitment to delivering high-quality construction education.

Katie McCrary Joins Junior Achievement of Memphis Board, as JA Expands Its Reach to Mississippi

FORGE is delighted to announce that Katie McCrary has recently accepted a board position with Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South, bringing her wealth of experience and commitment to fostering youth development and education particularly in the area of workforce readiness.

Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South is a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a variety of hands-on, experiential programs, JA empowers students to make informed financial decisions, develop entrepreneurial skills, and explore potential career paths.

Katie McCrary, a seasoned professional known for her dedication to community growth, is a valued addition to the Junior Achievement Board. Her extensive background in the construction industry and workforce readiness aligns seamlessly with JA’s mission to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary for future success. “I am thrilled to be joining the JA board of directors. My passion for education and commitment to community development align perfectly with Junior Achievement’s mission and goal which is, Every Child World Ready!

In addition to this exciting board appointment, Junior Achievement announced its expansion into Mississippi, marking a significant step in broadening the organization’s impact across state lines. This expansion reflects JA’s commitment to reaching more students and fostering a culture of entrepreneurship, financial literacy, and workforce readiness.

Junior Achievement programs are designed to bridge the gap between the classroom and the real world, providing students with practical skills that will serve them well in their future endeavors. By bringing JA to Mississippi, the organization aims to empower even more young people to achieve their full potential.

For more information about Junior Achievement of Memphis and its programs, please visit

Unveiling Our Achievements: FORGE 2023 Impact Report

FORGE is thrilled to announce the release of our highly anticipated 2023 Impact Report! Discover the incredible milestones, achievements, and the collective impact we’ve made together. Your support has fueled our success, and we can’t wait to share the inspiring stories within the report. Dive into the impact we’ve created and join us in celebrating a year of growth, collaboration, and empowerment!

FORGE Foundation Sparks Excitement for Learning with Construction Book Donations

Embracing the holiday spirit, the FORGE Foundation is thrilled to unveil a heartwarming initiative designed to promote literacy and spark curiosity about the construction world among young minds. This effort, made possible through a generous grant from the International Paper Foundation, involves the donation of construction-related books to multiple elementary school libraries in the Golden Triangle Region. Additionally, each student will receive a specially curated FORGE coloring book, fostering creativity, and providing a delightful, educational experience.

Melinda Lowe, FORGE Executive Director and retired educator, has been reading Christmas-themed construction books to students during the delivery of the book bundles. She blends her love for education with the festive cheer, crafting an experience that is both joyous and unforgettable. According to Lowe, “This infusion of holiday spirit has not only brought the magic of learning to life but has also provided valuable insights into the captivating world of construction sites filled with hard working crews.” Lowe added, “The students have been thoroughly engaged and shown excitement while also learning about excavators, bulldozers, dump trucks, cranes, cement mixers, and beyond.”

The FORGE Foundation is committed to making a positive impact on communities by fostering a love for learning and promoting valuable knowledge about skilled trades. This initiative aligns with our mission to empower young minds and build a foundation for a future workforce passionate about construction and its diverse possibilities.

2023 FORGE Your Path Career Expo

The FORGE Foundation is proud to announce its three-day in-person Skilled Trades Career Expo, providing a unique opportunity for approximately 2,500 students from 28 different schools in Chickasaw, Choctaw, Clay, Kemper, Lauderdale, Lowndes, Monroe, Noxubee, Oktibbeha, and Webster counties to explore careers in the skilled trades. This event, hosted in partnership with more than 30 local businesses, organizations, and career technical centers, aims to inspire and equip the next generation of skilled professionals.

The FORGE Your Path Career Expo kicks off at the EMCC Communiversity, on Tuesday, October 24, from 5-7pm as FORGE partners with the Regional Business After Hours event sponsored by the Columbus Lowndes Chamber of Commerce, the West Point Growth Alliance, and the Greater Starkville Development Partnership. Business leaders and community partners from the Golden Triangle Region will have the opportunity to see the Career Expo firsthand. They can enjoy operating equipment, laying bricks, experience working on a construction site using VR headsets, finishing concrete, and sitting in bulldozers just like the kids. FORGE will also host music from one of their own members, Goodloe Chilcutt with New Home Building Stores. Beginning Wednesday at 7:30 am, the Expo will be hosting students who are coming from 28 public, private, and parochial schools from 10 surrounding counties. The Expo will continue Thursday, running 7:30 am – 3:00 pm. In partnership with the Communiversity at East Mississippi Community College and the Mississippi Construction Education Foundation, the Forge Your Path Career Expo was recognized as the 2023 Workforce Program of the Year by AccelerateMS. The goal of the Career Expo is to expose and connect students with the necessary information and tools to explore a career in the skilled trades.

While students are touring the expo on Wednesday, FORGE and MCEF will also host a counselor’s workshop from 8:30 am – 3pm. FORGE feels strongly about influencing the decision makers that actually enroll students in skilled trades courses in our schools. Over 50 high school and middle school counselors from across Mississippi will have the opportunity to interact with multiple panelists who will be discussing important and relatable topics, increase network collaborations, and participate in a guided tour of the expo.

On Wednesday morning, the FORGE Career Expo will also host Middays with Gerard Gibert from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. This Super Talk radio show will broadcast live from the EMCC Communiversity, engaging in discussions about workforce shortages, career and technical education, and the emerging generation of skilled trades professionals.

Founded in 2018, FORGE (Family Organizations Recruiting Great Employees) is comprised of a group of locally owned small businesses, most of which are in their 2nd and 3rd generation of owners. Before founding FORGE, individually these companies were to the point of stealing labor from each other and were defeating their goal of strengthening each other and the community in which they work. They began to work together on determining a more long-term solution, and thus inspired FORGE. Formed with the vision of strengthening the budding partnerships with local schools and being able to help teach students how to one day be ready for the workforce, FORGE allows these companies to now work as a team to help build the workforce of tomorrow.

Katie McCrary, a FORGE founding board member from McCrary-West Construction, shared her perspective, saying, “This expo is a great opportunity for students to learn how to link their current educational outlook to a skilled trade. We want students to learn not only how they can enter these fields but thrive and advance as experts and leaders in these industries. We want to showcase our community as pioneers in developing a workforce pipeline beginning in K-12 and continuing through trade school, community college, or 4-year programs.”

According to Melinda Lowe, FORGE Executive Director, “The participating students are in the 8th grade, a critical age for deciding on career technical programs. FORGE’s dedication to guiding the next generation of tradespeople reflects the commitment of the Golden Triangle community to a shared cause.”

“The Career Expo not only connects students with experts in construction industry, but also showcases how their interests can align with the skilled trades of the future. The trades industry is incorporating cutting-edge technology, including drones, GPS plotting software, robots, and more, to attract young talent and drive regional economic growth,” said Lowe.

Students will have the opportunity to share their contact information with the vendors at the career expo, and EMCC staff will be on hand to assist students in exploring post-secondary education and career paths.

Today’s tradespeople are innovators and entrepreneurs, shaping our economic prosperity and daily lives. The trades serve as the foundation of our communities. For a complete list of FORGE members and more information about the FORGE Foundation, please visit