Area workers whose jobs have been affected by the Memorial Day tornadoes could receive help in finding new employment, meeting transportation needs and replacing uniforms and clothing through a $500,000 grant from the state.
Montgomery County will use the bulk of the grant to fund a Mobile Career Resource Center that will travel the county with 20 computer stations to help displaced workers apply for grant funds, work with caseworkers and get more details about the next steps in recovering from the EF4 tornado along with 14 others that devastated the area, said Marvene Mitchell, director of workforce development for Montgomery County.
“We wanted to meet the need of what’s going on in Montgomery County, and a lot of people are having issues getting to the Job Center, so we wanted to have the means to get out into the community better,” Mitchell said. “What better to have than the mobile unit to go around to our neighborhoods?”
Leaders are still working to learn how many workers lost their jobs as a result of the storms, but Barry Hall, president of the Greater Old North Dayton Business Association said at least 1,000 in the Old North Dayton area alone have been impacted.
“Initially, it was total devastation and still there are thousands of people out of work. Just at Dayton Phoenix alone, they probably have 200, 250 people just in one spot that are not being able to work, and it’s all over,” Hall said. “It’s going to take a long time to rebuild, to get these jobs up and running again, to make the businesses productive.”
Roughly $150,000 of the grant will be used to pay for training for people who have lost work and another $100,000 will be used to help other workers impacted through dependent care, work attire and uniforms, tools, transportation, auto repair and books and supplies for job training.
The stipends can help those who have lost vehicles and have no transportation to their job, lost their required uniforms in the storms or are transitioning to a new job after they lost their jobs, Mitchell said. Affected workers must apply for the grants and work through a caseworker, who will determine if they qualify for the grants and how much individuals could receive.
The traveling center will be in operation within the coming weeks, but Montgomery County leaders said all the same services and funding are currently available at the Job Center at 1111 S. Edwin C. Moses Blvd. in Dayton.
“We’re encouraging anyone who has lost work because of the tornado damage to not wait for the mobile unit to get up and running. Please come to The Job Center for help,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Debbie Lieberman. “We’ve used a strategic approach to managing our workforce funds to make sure we’re able to help our communities in emergency cases like we’ve seen with the awful storms of last week.”
The mobile unit is a response to the impact of the May 27 storms, but Mitchell said the county will continue using it for outreach events in communities all year long. Instead of meeting at community centers, the mobile unit will be able to set up shop anywhere Montgomery County wants to host an event.
For more details, residents can call Montgomery County’s Workforce Development at 937-813-1200. Montgomery County leaders will be in several meetings to learn more details, including whether residents of other counties who worked in Montgomery County could use the funds, Mitchell said.
Greene County has not applied for any similar grants yet, but Amy McKinney, administrator of Ohio Means Jobs of Greene County, said they are paying close attention to how Montgomery County uses its grant.
“Should we need it, we are fully planning on maybe doing the same thing,” she said.
Montgomery County’s Economic Development Department will also survey local businesses to learn the greatest needs of affected companies that will in turn help county leaders gain more information on how to best help workers, said Erik Collins, director of economic development for Montgomery County.
Despite the thousands of displaced workers, Hall said companies are working to keep their employees by involving them in cleanup and keeping them informed about recovery progress.
“Good help is so hard to find, and our fear is that we’re going to lose some good people because there are no jobs at this current time because of the tornado, and we don’t want that to happen,” Hall said.
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