Changes at Northwest Michigan Works
Northwest Michigan Works! is facing a large reduction in federal funds, approximately 35 percent, starting July 1, 2013. This comes on the heels of other federal funding cuts over the past few years, which resulted in reducing the Manistee and Kalkaska Michigan Works Service Centers to part-time, along with a number of staffing reductions.
The latest funding reduction reflects three factors: the sequestration; a decrease in Michigan's share of the federal formula; and a decrease in the Northwest region's share of the Michigan formula. Because of that, the organization has had to make some major cutbacks.
The part-time Kalkaska Michigan Works Service Center was closed on July 1. However, the Adult Education Learning Lab will remain open at its current Kalkaska location, and Northwest Michigan Works is installing a self-service computer kiosk in Kalkaska similar to those being installed in other counties. Michigan Works will also continue and expand its customer access in the Kalkaska area – and in several other counties – through Career Connections sessions, in which staff people offer a variety of job search and career development services in scheduled group sessions.
The Petoskey Michigan Works Service Center will become a part-time site instead of its current full-time status. The details of the new schedule have yet to be determined.
The entire organization will see a reduction of 10 full-time equivalents across the region. This comes from a combination of retirements, layoffs, and vacancies that will not be filled. Four are from the management and "back office" area; six are from direct customer service. There are many other cost cutting measures that are less significant to the public.
The Northwest Michigan Works customer service system is being redesigned to make it less dependent on physical centers so infrastructure costs can be reduced while keeping customer access as high as possible. Michigan Works is also giving high priority to skills training to meet immediate and upcoming needs of employers for a well-trained work force.
"We are tackling our budget reductions in a variety of creative ways, all with the intent of keeping our services to businesses and career seekers as strong as ever,” said Elaine Wood, CEO of the Northwest Michigan Council of Governments and Northwest Michigan Works!. “I’m confident in that process, especially because of our dynamic staff. Northwest Michigan Works! remains a healthy and forward-moving organization that helps about 25,000 individuals and businesses each year."
Northwest Michigan Works will continue to operate its full-time, full-service centers in Cadillac and Traverse City, as well as part-time centers in Manistee and Petoskey.
Our Township greatly benefits from Network Northwest's experience, depth of knowledge and understanding. Because they work with so many diverse communities in our ten-county region they understand the local land-use issues and are already working on solutions by the time we realize we need some help.Susan Odom, Chair, Suttons Bay Township Planning Commission