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Getting to Know Your Coconino County Rapid Response Team 

The Rapid Response Team (RRT) is housed in our Coconino County Career Center and works with businesses that are transitioning. This means the focus of the RRT is to assist businesses that are downsizing, struggling or simply closing. While the primary focus is to help the businesses, the RRT also works with employees who are soon-to-be, or have already been, laid off. Here is the mission of the RRT: The Rapid Response Team proactively serves the employers and employees to prevent or respond to layoffs or closures by connecting them with customized resources in a timely, professional manner. 

The Rapid Response Team (RRT) fulfills its mission through strategic relationships countywide. The RRT is comprised of a multi-disciplinary group of human resource and economic development professionals throughout the region.  

The Rapid Response Team (RRT) will provide transitional assistance to the employer and the employees alike. The RRT will coordinate services to minimize disruptions to the company, the affected workers and the community. Easing such transitions is a welcome notion, and the ways that the RRT actually assists employers and employees are real, intended to provide the right assistance at the right time.  

Businesses respond to changing conditions in the market every day. Sometimes, those changes seriously challenge the resilience and future of businesses and their “business as usual” practices. When a business arrives at the realization that downsizing is the most appropriate course of action, the business owner should call the Rapid Response Team. The phone number is 877-358-6714. That call goes to Cindy Wilson, the Coconino County Rapid Response manager. The call is not lost in bureaucratic maze but connects directly to a competent, caring and knowledgeable person who is the point contact for the business throughout the process.  

Here in one of many examples of how the Rapid Response Team has worked with area businesses. 

Walgreens Distribution Center once employed more than 400 people at the Flagstaff facility. As efficiencies in the logistics grew, the need for the Flagstaff facility diminished. At the time of the closure, there were 347 employed who would soon be out of work. As soon as one of the partners in the Rapid Response Team learned of the closure, the RRT got to work. Partnering directly with the Walgreens Distribution Center personnel, the RRT established a presence in the Distribution Center to work with the employees right there. The RRT assisted with updating resumes, which is so important, especially for people who have been in the same job for years. The RRT coordinated other partners to participate as well, which amounted to a Flagstaff City Council member, the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce president and others meeting with employees to help them navigate the transition.  

While these examples of assisting the employees certainly help individuals, these same efforts also assist the business in a number of ways. One way it helps the business is by reducing unemployment insurance costs. Also, by inviting resources into the operations to work with employees, the business demonstrates true caring and consideration for the long-standing employees.  

The scenario with the Walgreens Distribution Center closure was a difficult one for many specifically and for the community at large. The Rapid Response Team effort also impressed Walgreens Corporate members. They were very impressed by the Rapid Response Team, and the ability of the team to simultaneously assist with the closure and with the people who were losing their jobs. The RRT was recognized for its efforts by many. 

The Walgreens example works to demonstrate how the Rapid Response Team works during a closure. The RRT also works with employers during other types of transitions such as seasonal employment. At a recent RRT meeting, the group addressed the issue of seasonal employment needs. The holiday season is the season of giving, and as we all know, that means shopping at all hours of the day. The RRT had been approached by a number of retailers who needed people but were struggling. The RRT worked to develop a variety of programs and incentives that businesses could use to meet their hiring needs.  

When it comes to transitions in business, the Rapid Response Team is here for you. The RRT will provide customized programs and resources designed for you specifically. Downsizing is difficult for everybody. For the business owner who has worked to build an organization, downsizing flies in the face of all hopes and visions. The Rapid Response Team is your specialty team waiting to help you navigate these tough times in a way that preserves your legacy and your community as much as possible. If you need them, call Cindy Wilson at the Coconino County Rapid Response Team today. FBN 

By John Saltonstall 

John Saltonstall is the Business Retention and Expansion manager for the City of Flagstaff.  



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