County officials take a tour.

County job center renovation aims to spur workforce development

More than $10 million in renovations to the Montgomery County Job Center will spur more workforce readiness in the region in a time when companies are having a tough time finding available workers, county officials said.

Montgomery County Development Services on Thursday hosted a tour of the newly renovated Job Services area of the Job Center 2.0. The center, located at 1111 S. Edwin C. Moses Blvd., serves about 200,000 visitors annually. The Jobs Services area houses the job bank and the YouthWorks resource center.

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Bob Gruhl, deputy director of operations for the Montgomery County Department of Job and Family Services, said the renovations were “about the investment we’re making in people, the investment we’re making in the community, and the ability to bring things to life.”

Renovations include integrating all services within one facility and strategic placement of four convenient entry points for specific services and programs.

The entrances are color-coded: red signage for workforce development; blue for the main entrance which includes family assistance for food, subsidized childcare, Medicaid enrollment and more; yellow for specialized service and customers with small children; the green entrance will service child support services later in the year.

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But the physical renovations are part of a greater effort to fill the pipeline with skilled, ready workers. The county is also specifically targeting a demographic: high schoolers.

Mark Anderson, workforce marketing coordinator, said the county’s YouthWorks program provides more than 2,000 young people in Montgomery County with valuable work, training and skills. But the state has funneled the programs funding into a different, year-long program — and Anderson is unsure of what the future holds for YouthWorks’ financial backing.

“We cannot afford to lose this,” Anderson said. “If five years from now, we don’t have this program, then that’s about 13,000 kids we would’ve served and haven’t.”

He said having a steady pipeline of ready workers helps to attract major companies like Fuyao Glass America and Procter & Gamble.

County commissioners Judy Dodge, Dan Foley and Debbie Lieberman toured the facility, along with county and city leaders. Ultimately, they said, the physical investment is an investment in a stronger workforce.

“We’ll be able to service our customers in the best way we can,” Lieberman said. “The goal is to get everybody in Montgomery County at living wage, successful, happy families. That’s all of our goals. All of us working together, especially under this one roof, is going to be so important.”

Gruhl said the renovations are now entering the third phase, and there continues to be construction outside of the building. Updates to the child support area are expected to be completed by the end of the year.

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“We can’t completely rest until the end of the year,” he said. “We’re super excited about what the future holds for us and what we’re going to be able to bring to the consumers that we serve.”

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