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First Friday addresses early learning

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) —- Whenever industries consider relocating to Bay County, they consider the quality of education that’s available for their worker’s families.

That’s one of the reasons business leaders with the Bay County Chamber of Commerce created a task force this year to address a shortage of early education resources.

The early learning coalition told chamber members at the First Friday event, that more than 50 percent of 3rd graders are reading below grade level.

Experts said the lack of early learning plays a role in those lower scores. 

Early Learning Coalition Executive Director Suzan Gage also points out the long-term effects on the workforce.

“So child care and early learning specifically is like a coin two-sided,” Gage said. “You got to have child care so parents today can go to work, support their families. And you also need high-quality early learning child care in order to prepare the future workforce. So you got to have both of them can’t have one without the other.”