On Feb. 17, President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. This act is intended to provide an economic stimulus to the U.S. economy in the wake of the economic downturn, which began in December 2007.
The mission of WORKFORCE plus is to serve as the local employment solution by linking businesses in need of qualified workers with the people in our community who need and want employment. The state of Florida’s workforce system utilizes the Employ Florida Marketplace as the comprehensive, employment resource. As of Feb. 9, there are 3.6 million job seekers in the system and Florida’s unemployment rate stands at 8.1 percent (December 2008).
Locally, we have a combined 16,147 registered job seekers in the Tallahassee metropolitan area, which includes Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon and Wakulla counties. The average unemployment rate for those counties is 6.2 percent.
Due to these staggering numbers, we believe it is imperative that our local delegation and municipalities, as they move forward with the identified shovel ready projects, hold as a priority the following:
• Ensure procurement procedures developed give preference to local contractors/ vendors and in turn the selected contractors/vendors hire local residents.
• Adopt contract language that vendors selected will list their vacancies through the Employ Florida Marketplace to ensure that the jobs created can be tracked and a report can be provided relative to how many unemployed individuals gained employment under this initiative.
• In coordination with the state’s workforce system and other key stakeholders, establish priorities to address those that have been long term unemployed (26 weeks or more) and more recently unemployed (less than 26 weeks) and have the necessary skills to obtain employment as a result of the jobs being created. Additionally, for those unemployed who require short-term training to obtain employment, that we create a linkage with our educational institutions to deliver the just-in-time training
Over the next few weeks and months we have a unique opportunity to help those that have been impacted most to regain their livelihood and began repairing the devastation that the economic downturn has created.
Kimberly A. Moore