Emergency grant provides temporary jobs

news_icon_greenBy Dennis Seid

Daily Journal

More than $4 million is available to provide temporary jobs to displaced workers for up to six months.

Three Rivers Planning and Development District in Pontotoc received $4.4 million of a National Emergency Grant, which will be used to provide the work for people who lost their jobs due to the April 28 tornadoes.

The money also will be used to provide jobs for people who have exhausted their unemployment benefits and for those who have been jobless for more than 27 weeks.

“This National Emergency Grant is something we’ve done before, unfortunately,” said Bill Renick, Workforce Investment Area Director for Three Rivers.

The funds were used in 2007 when Sara Lee closed the Bryan Foods plant in West Point, putting 1,200 out of work.

The latest grant will be used in federal disaster areas that include Itawamba, Lee, Lowndes and Winston counties.

“The program will help people who lost their jobs because of the tornado, as well as the other qualified groups,” Renick said.

The jobs are with public entities and nonprofit organizations. For example, jobs may be available in a city’s public works department, its parks and recreation department, a school district or an agency like United Way.

In Tupelo, Mayor Jason Shelton said the program has put 43 people to work in various city departments.

“It’s a win-win for the citizens affected by the tornado, for the citizens without work,” Shelton said. “This is a tremendous benefit for them, and to the city as well.”

The city benefits because the new workers aren’t on its payroll and don’t cost its taxpayers. The grant is administered through Three Rivers, and employment agency Key Staffing handles the payroll.

Renick said potential applicants in Lee and Itawamba counties should go to the WIN Job Center in Belden to inquire about job openings.

Applicants will have to pass a drug test and fill out appropriate paperwork.

“They can earn up to $12,000 or work up to six months, whichever comes first,” Renick said. “The pay scale will depend on the scope of the job, so the pay is set by the entity that’s hiring.”

About 100 people total have been hired through the program and have used up about $700,000 of the funds.

Three Rivers was given an initial $1.5 million to start its program, with the remaining money available while it lasts.

“Basically, we have a line of credit.”

The program is slated to run through June 30, 2015, or when the money is depleted.

dennis.seid@journalinc.com