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Coconino County Career Center: Helping Out-of-Work Employees Land on their Feet

SeelhammerSeven months have passed since members of our community learned their jobs would be eliminated with the closure of the Walgreens Distribution Center in Flagstaff.

In July, Coconino County pledged to provide the resources needed to help the 345 impacted employees find new jobs and careers before the plant closes this spring.

In the months since news of the closure broke, the County’s Career Center and its Rapid Response Team delivered on that pledge by holding three job fairs, multiple re-employment workshops and resource tables for the company’s impacted staff.

Last month, the first round of layoffs began, with 27 employee volunteers opting to be the first laid off.

We all know that layoffs and company closures can have a devastating community and economic impact. Ideally, every company should thrive, as local economies remain vibrant. However, we don’t always live in an ideal world, and history tells us that broader economies grow and contract.

In an uncertain economy, it is often our own communities that suffer most. Luckily, the county realizes this and strives to do what it can to serve as a resource for those seeking to get back on their feet quickly.

Having such a dedicated support network – such as the County Career Center – in place for those in need helps to ensure the pain is short-lived.

During the recent job fairs, soon-to-be-laid-off Walgreens employees met with premier local employers, interviewed for job openings and identified new employment or educational opportunities. The County Career Center worked to pair unemployed staff with local employers such as Babbitt Ford, Prent, the Northern Arizona Intergovernmental Public Transit Authority (NAIPTA), Nestle-Purina, the City of Flagstaff, Coconino County, Flagstaff Medical Center and Goodwill Industries of Northern Arizona.

Along with the job fairs, information and answers were shared by resource experts from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the County Community Services Department, Coconino Community College, North Country Healthcare, Social Security Administration and Housing Solutions of Northern Arizona.

In addition, the County Career Center hosted two sign-up sessions for Walgreens staff and their spouses to register for intensive services to aid them in their job search.

Through these efforts, the county registered more than 60 Walgreens employees for enhanced job searches or training resources. Of those customers, as of mid-January, we are happy to report that 24 became employed and moved on to new jobs.

This is exactly what the County Career Center is designed to do: to help our fellow community members land on their feet, because when they succeed, we all succeed.

Through the federal Workforce Investment Opportunity Act, the County Career Center is able to invest up to $4,000 in grant funding to assist each Walgreens client. Grant funding is designed to be utilized to assist those seeking work with everything from polishing up their résumés to funding on-the-job-training with local employers, paying for work clothes or covering the costs of obtaining credentials, such as a commercial driver’s license, or CDL.

When the next round of layoffs at Walgreens occurs this month, the County Career Center will again be present to team with local employers and community partners to conduct a hiring/resource fair Feb. 26.

The county knows that layoffs impact not only the local economy, but can place a strain on families, so it is in all our best interest to do what we can to ensure our local workforce has the tools needed to be successful.

The County Career Center is here to do just that: provide our residents the confidence and tools needed to enhance their lives and strengthen our communities. For more information on the County Career Center, visit www.coconino.az.gov/CareerCenter. FBN

Coconino County Manager Cynthia Seelhammer is a resident of Flagstaff.




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