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The Job Council Receives New Federal Grant To Help Laid Off Workers In Jackson And Josephine Counties

November 24, 2009


The Job Council has received a new grant of over $740,000 to help laid off workers in Jackson and Josephine Counties. The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Labor and is to help
workers get new skills so they can compete for better paying jobs. This grant is in addition to the over $ 1.5 million in previous Federal Stimulus funds that The Job Council received to help unemployed and underemployed workers in the two-county region.

According to Jackson County Commissioner Dave Gilmour, “This is really positive news for the people in our community who have been laid off and are unemployed or just getting by in a low-paying job. It’s a great opportunity for those hurt most in the recession to get new skills, and to make themselves more competitive in the job market.”

Jackson and Josephine County Commissioners, along with business leaders from the Rogue Valley Workforce Development Council oversee these Job Council programs. Nikki Jones, President of the Council and owner of Express Employment Professionals says laid off workers need to seize the opportunity to improve their skills. “It’s a very competitive labor market. Some employers are hiring, but they need people with the right skills and motivation to really help their business succeed. If you don’t have the skills, you won’t get or keep the job.”

Business and education leaders are working hard to make skills training easy to access and relevant to business needs. In January, a new PowerUp Academy was launched, providing one-day or half-day training session in topics such as Computer Skills, Fork Lift Safety, First Aid/CPR, Lean Productivity Enhancement and Leadership/Supervision. “These short training workshops give laid-off workers and current employees new skills that employers want so they can improve business productivity and competitiveness,” according to Stacie Grier, PowerUp Coordinator. “And, they’re building blocks to more expanded Career Pathways trainings available at Rogue Community College, Southern Oregon University or other training providers. “These are the kinds of trainings that will help laid off workers improve their skills and get better jobs.”

“We’ve got to help our businesses succeed. They’re the ones who will lead us out of this recession,” according to Ron Fox, Executive Director of SOREDI, the region’s economic development agency. “In good or bad economic times, businesses tell us the same thing: they need skilled workers. So, through these trainings that’s what we’re providing.”

The Job Council’s request for funds was in response to the layoffs or business closures in over 20 companies, affecting over 952 workers from July of 2008 to March 2009.  These new grant funds have been targeted to serve 164 laid off workers from 15 of these companies. “Combined with previous Federal Stimulus Funds, we now have a lot of capacity to help our many unemployed or underemployed workers improve their skills and move up in a career path,” says Jill Wilson, Program Manager at The Job Council.

Services may include skills assessment, basic skills training, individual career counseling and support for occupational skills training. The project will emphasize both PowerUp workshops and other post-secondary certificates and training that allow workers to acquire the skills needed to enter promising careers in key regional industries. These industries include manufacturing, information technology, internet marketing, healthcare, construction and transportation and logistics. Regional leaders are also working to help promote the emergence of more green industry jobs, such as in weatherization and solar energy.

“We’re all looking forward to better economy and a brighter future,” says Josephine County Commissioner Dwight Ellis. “These training funds will help more citizens and businesses build this brighter economic future.

For more information, contact The Job Council at 776-5100 in Medford, or 474-1187 in Grants Pass. Or go to the websites: or


For more information regarding the source of funding see the attached Department of Labor, News Release.

Contact The Job Council Adult and Dislocated Worker Program Manager Jill Wilson at 842-2547 for further information or updates.

ETA News Release: [11/23/2009]
 US Department of Labor announces grant exceeding $741,000 to assist workers in Oregon affected by layoffs in multiple industries
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a $741,502 grant to assist approximately 164 workers affected by layoffs at 15 companies in multiple industries in the Oregon counties of Jackson and Josephine.
"This grant will provide the retraining and job-search assistance that affected workers in Oregon need and deserve as they strive to get ahead in a challenging economy," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis.
Awarded to the Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development, this grant will be operated by The Job Council. The grant will provide affected workers with access to dislocated worker services, which may include skills assessment, basic skills training, individual career counseling and occupational skills training.
The project will emphasize post-secondary education and training that allow workers to acquire the skills needed to enter careers in promising regional industries. The program provider will seek to offer opportunities for training in green industries, as well as other nationally-defined demand occupations.
Jackson and Josephine counties have been severely affected by the recession, with unemployment rates of 12.4 and 14.2 percent, respectively. Layoffs at the 15 companies covered by the grant occurred between October 2008 and March 2009.
This grant will be funded by resources made available for National Emergency Grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
National Emergency Grants are part of the secretary of labor's discretionary fund and are awarded based on a state's ability to meet specific guidelines. For more information, visit

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