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Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Job service agency splits $1 million stimulus funding

By Shelley Grieshop
A Mercer County agency that provides job services will share more than $1 million in stimulus funds with three other area counties.
The local Workforce Investment Act (WIA) and its One Stop System was recently notified of the $1,051,479 award through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Mercer County will split the funds with three other counties in the Area 8 region: Auglaize, Van Wert and Hardin.
The state of Ohio is targeted to receive more than $153 million in WIA grants through the Department of Labor, courtesy of President Barack Obama's Recovery Act.
WIA, locally located in the Central Services Building in Celina, is a federally-funded program that provides employment and training services for job seekers. The agency's goal is to increase employment, job retention, earnings of participants and occupational skills through its One-Stop Centers.
Local WIA Director Tim McCourtie said the recovery funds are earmarked for programs that will support youth, adults and dislocated workers.
"The funds will be evenly distributed (between counties) but we can move them from county to county as needed," McCourtie said.
The four counties will split about $460,000 to enhance the current summer youth program. WIA staff members help find jobs for youngsters, while teaching them good work habits and financial planning.
With high unemployment rates, officials are quite pleased with the $400,000 allocated to the dislocated workers program. The focus is to get laid-off and out-of-work employees back to work within a year, McCourtie explained. Training programs such as computer classes and other intensive services will be offered, he said.
McCourtie said WIA staff already have begun coordinating classes with learning institutions in all four counties and will complete plans after surveying clients' needs.
"Location is going to be a factor for many people," he said. "The need will determine how we will proceed."
Nearly $200,000 will help fund WIA's general adult program. Many of those services are the same as those found in the dislocated worker program, he said.
McCourtie said employment programs and training are very much in need in today's economy. The four counties partnered in WIA Area 8 already have fielded as many job inquires in the last nine months as they did the entire previous year, McCourtie said.
Since July 2008, approximately 2,265 people have sought services from the WIA office in Mercer County, he said.
Anyone interested in signing up for the various programs being offered through WIA and One Stop can call the Celina office at 419-586-6409.
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