State

Stanislaus to get part of jobs grant

Stanislaus County is among several San Joaquin Valley counties to receive part of $8.2 million in stimulus funds from a Regional National Emergency Grant.

The U.S. Department of Labor granted the funds this week to go toward job training and employment services for the thousands of unemployed residents in the valley.

In Stanislaus County, the jobless rate hit 18.9 percent in January.

The grant will be administered by the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board and be divided between it and the other seven valley work-force investment boards: Fresno, Kern-Inyo-Mono, King, Merced, Mother Lode, San Joaquin and Stanislaus County Alliance Worknet.

"We were approved for the funding based on the serious economic conditions that the valley has been experiencing," said Jeff Rowe, director of the Alliance Worknet. "It was provided because we are in such more serious economic straits than the rest of California and the rest of the country."

Stanislaus County will receive a portion of the grant, though Rowe is not sure of its exact size. The initial proposal asked for $11 million, with Stanislaus County receiving $1.3 million. He estimates the area should now receive a little less than $1 million.

The money will be used to provide dislocated workers with skills retraining, paid internships and on the job training subsidies to employers.

The funds will be distributed in two parts. Adam Peck, executive director of the Tulare County Workforce Investment Board, said half of the grant will become available immediately, with the other portion expected in the next fiscal year.

While the grant was for less than requested, Peck said the amount will still provide a needed boost.

"I think the $8.2 million grant represents a real understanding of the economic situation throughout the entire valley and a significant investment," he said. "This downturn has really hit this area hard. The federal investment will be well spent."

The grant is separate from another grant filed earlier this month by the state Employment Development Department to help thousands of workers who will lose their jobs when the New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont closes.

That $33 million National Emergency Grant has been filed with the U.S. Department of Labor and is under review. Stanislaus County would receive a portion of those funds, if granted, because hundreds of NUMMI workers and suppliers live in the county and will be affected by the plant's closure March 31.

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at mrowland@modbee.com or 578-2284.

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