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10:50 PM Mon, Sept. 24th

NACOG to receive more than $700,000 in stimulus money to expand services to job seekers

PRESCOTT - A regional agency that provides job training and other services for job seekers stands to receive more than $700,000 in federal stimulus money for Yavapai County.

The Northern Arizona Association of Governments Yavapai Workforce Connection will receive an estimated $746,590 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Regional Director Teri Drew said Tuesday.

Drew said the money is due to arrive by the end of the month, adding the amount is subject to change according to the jobless rate in the county. She added NACOG plans to use the stimulus money from the U.S. Department of Labor over a two-year period to expand existing services for job seekers, including laid-off workers and youth.

Representatives from the Arizona Department of Economic Security Tuesday were unable to confirm how much stimulus money would go to NACOG.

However, whatever the stimulus money amounts to is good news for Sandy Griffis, executive director of the Yavapai County Contractors Association, which has more than 300 members. The economic recession has devastated homebuilders in Yavapai County and throughout the country.

"I think it is fabulous that they have the funds to help people that need assistance," Griffis said. "We would love to step up to the plate and help if it is construction- or contractor-related. We'd love to be able to partner up and help them (NACOG)."

NACOG is looking for businesses, nonprofits and other employers to provide job training, Drew said. She explained NACOG currently serves between 2,500 to 2,800 people a month with job placement programs and training, a figure that has climbed as the jobless rate doubled to 6.8 percent over the past year.

Drew said NACOG will place a priority of the stimulus money, an estimated $271,163, to expand a summer job program for low-income youths ages 14 to 24. She said she set a goal of serving 100 people, up from eight people who benefited this past summer.

The participating youths would earn $7.50 to $9 an hour in jobs ranging from data entry to firefighting, Drew said. NACOG staff will help applicants with job readiness training: resume writing, filling out applications and interview skills.

"We look for skilled jobs with local businesses and governments and nonprofits," Drew said.

Drew said one emphasis of the summer youth program is to stimulate the local economy because the jobs "will put money in their pockets."

The summer youth program is due to start June 1, Drew said. She urged prospective applicants to contact NACOG immediately by dropping by the office at 221 N. Marina St., Suite 201.

Drew said the other emphasis is an estimated $324,307 toward helping dislocated workers who lost their jobs through layoffs or folded businesses.

"We pay for retraining," she said. "We pay for books and tuition and on-the-job training."

NACOG pays 50 percent of the wages for dislocated workers while they receive job training, Drew said. The training lasts three to six months.

Drew urged interested individuals to attend orientation sessions that take place at 10 a.m. Mondays at the NACOG office.

She explained the third emphasis is a program for adults and youths who are between jobs, underemployed or looking for better jobs. The program pays 100 percent of their wages for three to six months.

For more information, call NACOG at 778-1422.