Coconino County takes great pride in many successes: we attract and host visitors from all over the world who visit our unique landscapes and enjoy the spectacular natural wonders. We are home to a diverse and highly skilled workforce — our workers and their employers are the drivers of our economy.
The county plays a role in such employment. The Coconino County Career Center trains and places people who may have lost their jobs, and it helps employers who are seeking talented employees to grow their business.
To further meet the needs of employees and employers, the Coconino County Career Center recently partnered with the Arizona Workforce System to launch the One-Stop Shop. This comprehensive One-Stop is located at the Arizona Department of Economic Security at 1701 North Fourth Street in Flagstaff. At this location, staff help people increase their skills and find work. The office has a computer lab available and staff is on hand to help with resume development, job search and interview practice.
The One-Stop staff helps employers post jobs, pre-screen potential employees and evaluate skill sets. They also set up hiring events and career fairs. This one-stop shop will also help streamline services and align people to their future careers more quickly. They are ready when unexpected business closures happen.
Mass layoffs due to closure are devastating to workers, families and our community. When such events happen, we want to be able to retrain people and get them working again as soon as possible. Recently, Salt River Project announced the closure of Navajo Generating Station (NGS). This closure will result in an estimated loss of 3,100 direct and indirect jobs.
This will be distressing to the economy of Arizona and Coconino County.
District 5 Supervisor Lena Fowler and District 4 Supervisor Jim Parks have been leading the charge to work with the Arizona Corporation Commission, the Department of the Interior, the Navajo Nation and other stakeholders to renew the lease agreement and delay the premature closure of the plant.
While that effort is underway, the Career Center and the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona have been working tirelessly to develop a strategic economic development plan for the impacted region.
The Career Center recently received a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to proactively develop foundations for a competitive business environment, develop methods and models to diversify the economy, and to encourage job growth and business development, retention and expansion.
Whenever the layoffs begin to occur, Coconino County and the Navajo Nation Workforce programs will invest Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act training funds for the reemployment training and tuition costs of laid off workers. We will also partner with the Coconino Small Business Development Center, (SBDC). The SBDC will work with local area residents to develop and implement business plans that will create new business and employment opportunities in the area.
Plant closures and job layoffs will disrupt families, hurt the economy and are challenges to our communities. However, the Coconino Career Center, and our partners, are ready with innovative workforce solutions. They are leaders in connecting people and jobs. By helping businesses succeed and grow, the groundwork is being set for a stronger Coconino County economy, despite any changes. FBN
By Cynthia Seelhammer