County uses stimulus money on jobs, aid

Stimulus Pie for Mohave County
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Stimulus Pie for Mohave County (Click to view)

KINGMAN - What does $4 million in stimulus money pay for in Mohave County? It allows 190 unemployed or underemployed Mohave County residents receiving the training and certification to start over in a new career field. It pays for more than 100 Kingman youth to learn on-the-job skills and training. It purchases meals for seniors, rent/utility assistance for low-income families, repaving of a road and the completion of a walking path.

According to Recovery.gov, the federal government's Web site to track stimulus dollars, Arizona was awarded $2.8 billion and has received nearly $8.2 million in funds.

Mohave County has received nearly $4 million in stimulus funds, some from the state and some directly from the federal government through grants and loans.

The majority of the funds for Mohave County, approximately $2.5 million, has gone to replace and add to grants for county housing, workforce and public health programs.

Of that $2.5 million, more than $396,000 funded a unique partnership between Mohave Community College and Mohave County One-Stop Career Center, the FastTrack Adult Education Program.

The program, created within 31 days and started in late September, is a rigorous, fast-paced education and training program at MCC in nine of the most in-demand job fields, such as medical coding, heating ventilation and air-conditioning technician, medical assistant and certified nursing assistant, said Mohave County Workforce Development Manager Jen Miles. The program also provides assistance with tuition, books, transportation costs and a training stipend. Students had to meet certain requirements in order to be eligible for the program.

"We had a very short time to put this together. This was a joint effort," Miles said. As soon as her department knew the stimulus funds were coming in, it contacted MCC. The college and Workforce Development were able to determine which of the college's job-training programs led to the most jobs in the area and could be compressed in a short amount of time.

More than 500 people from the tri-city area showed up to the Sept. 8 orientation for the program, Miles said. Of those 500 people, 190 enrolled in the program.

"It's a targeted program designed to lead directly to jobs, allow people to become self-sufficient and keep them and their families in their homes," said Miles. "It's proven successful."

According to the ARRA Workforce Newsletter, published by Miles' department, the first class of HVAC technicians graduated from the program within five weeks, with a 100-percent passing rate.

At least 11 students in the nursing assistant class have already graduated and have new jobs, and this Friday, 50 students in the medical coding class will take a bus ride to Phoenix to take their certification test, Miles said. Both MCC and Workforce Development expect to see more students graduate from the program in the next few weeks and months.

FastTrack

funding spent

Unfortunately, enrollment in the FastTrack program is closed, she said. The stimulus money for the FastTrack program has been spent and Workforce Development doesn't have the funding to continue it, not without another shot of stimulus funding. Which is exactly what the department is hoping for. Congress is already talking about the possibility of expanding stimulus funding in the new year, but no one knows if that will happen or not, Miles said.

However, there is another job-training program in the works, Miles said. The department has also received a $315,000 grant to partner with MCC and some of the renewable energy industries looking to move into the county, such as Hualapai Valley Solar or Albiasa Solar, she said.

The funds will be used to create a new curriculum at MCC that would train eligible residents to work at jobs in the new facilities, she said. The idea is to have students in the program graduate in time to be hired by the new energy companies.

Workforce Development, MCC and the solar companies are supposed to meet in the next few weeks to discuss what job skills and training the companies are looking for in new employees, Miles said.

Around $465,000 was also used to expand the Coyote youth work program this summer, Miles said. The county was able to triple the number of youth enrolled in the program.

In 2008, about 30 youth from the Kingman area were enrolled in the program. This year, more than 100 from the Kingman area were enrolled, she said.

The program teaches youth how to prepare, train and learn the skills to get and hold a job.

Besides sharpening residents' job skills, $330,000 in stimulus money has been allotted to help clear at least nine residential properties of health and zoning code violations.

More than $892,000 has been allocated to help around 100 low-income and eligible families with rent/utility assistance.

Workforce Development offers many of these services to eligible residents on a daily basis, but the additional dollars from the stimulus funding have helped the county expand some of these programs and help even more people, Miles said.

The county is also expected to receive more than $66,000 to expand the work of local service agencies such as the Salvation Army, local food banks and missions. According to the County Emergency Management Department, the funds must be used to help feed, shelter or offer rent/utility assistance.

Public works

Besides funds for job training, the county has also received stimulus dollars for Public Works projects.

The county expects to receive around $1 million in funds for two public works projects. The first is for pavement replacement on Northern Avenue between Stockton Hill Road and Bank Street.

The second project is to finish part of a walking path along the Mohave Wash between Gordon and Northern avenues. A construction company from Colorado City has been hired to finish the walking path.

Besides paving and housing projects, the county also received more than $408,000 to retrofit county buildings with more energy-efficient lighting, heating and cooling systems. The idea is to save money with more efficient systems and provide installation jobs to local companies.

"We're doing this one person at a time," Miles said. "Having seen the results, I would opt to do this again."

For more information on Workforce Development programs, call the department at (928) 753-0723.

For more information on construction bid opportunities, check the Mohave County Procurement Department's Web site at www. co.mohave.az.us, click on the "Departments" tab and then on the "Procurement" link.