News & Events

Cibola Workforce Center Officials Cut Ribbon

27 September 2013

Article By: Cibola Beacon   |   Donald Jaramillo

 

CIBOLA COUNTY – The County is providing the facility and utilities; the state and federal governments will provide the services, including staffing. That is how the new Cibola Workforce Center came to be.

On Tuesday morning, officials from Cibola County and state Workforce Connection and Workforce Development Board, joined together and cut the ribbon for the “all new” Cibola Workforce Center at La Mesa Mall on Roosevelt Avenue in Grants. The county purchased the Mall last year.

“This is a one-stop shop,” said Adrian Ortiz, director of the New Mexico Northern Area Local Workforce Development Board (NALWDB). “Training, testing, interest inventory, job search, assessments, résumé creation, and other job-related skills. The county provided the facility and basically told us: ‘Here it is, please move in.’

And now, here we are.”

Several years ago, the New Mexico Workforce Connection office in Grants on High Street closed because so many services are now offered online. However, being that much of the County is rural and online availability could be scarce, and because many of the residents who need the service do not have the skills to go online, county elected officials sounded the alarm.

County Commission Antonio “Tony” Gallegos was first to speak out. “It’s simple – we need an employment office in Cibola County,” said Gallegos.

One thing led to another, and eventually the county purchased La Mesa Mall. “The plan from the beginning was to fill the facility with some services that Cibola County residents need,” said Commission Chairman Eddie Michael. “Thankfully, with collaboration with the State, area residents now have a much needed Cibola Workforce Center. The Center has representatives from several programs including SER-Jobs for Progress, Inc., Help-New Mexico, a representative from the state’s Economic Development Department, and lastly but most importantly, a career development specialist provided by the New Mexico Northern Area Local Workforce Development Board (NALWDB).

The NALWDB promotes business and community partnerships for local economic development while providing vocational training and employment services to meet the demands of a changing workforce. The Northern Area is comprised of ten counties that include Cibola, Colfax, Los Alamos, Mckinley, Mora, Rio Arriba, San Juan, Santa Fe, San Miguel, and Taos.

Ralph Richards, owner and operator of Earl’s Restaurant in Gallup, is president of the board. “It’s all about employability,” said Richards following Tuesday’s ribbon cutting. “Such as improving skill levels and getting residents qualified to work and make a living.”

Help-New Mexico WIA Youth Services works to improve educational achievement, job readiness and employment opportunities for young people.

SER-Jobs for Progress, Inc., is a private, nonprofit corporation providing educational and workforce opportunities in 14 counties of northern and central New Mexico. Since its inception in 1970, SER has addressed the needs of the state’s communities by empowering individuals and business with the necessary resources to grow and prosper. SER’s ultimate goal is to place its program participants into permanent, unsubsidized, and productive employment.

Since the Center opened earlier this year, SER has invested $42,000 in Cibola County in assisting residents with nine CDL licenses, six nursing opportunities, two social workers, and one welding technician, auto mechanic, and one criminal justice and general education degrees, according to its regional Director Alex Martinez.

“We are here to serve the residents, we know there is a need,” said Martinez.

(Visit the new Center to learn more about Help-New Mexico and SER-Jobs for Progress.)

The Cibola Workforce Center will not offer any unemployment services. “Unemployment services, including benefits, are all done online now at www.jobs.state.nm.us,” said Ortiz. “The center focuses on employment skills and availability. In addition, the center will focus on networking with the county’s business community. We are very excited about this new opportunity.”

Ortiz said the Cibola County Workforce Center is a new model for the state’s Workforce Connections offices. “We recently opened a office in another county, a collaboration effort, modeled after this one,” explained Ortiz. “And, in the works are several others. The counties are providing some space and the state is coming in with some services.”

Commission Chairman Eddie Michael said there is more to come. “The goal is to include a state or federal Veteran Services representative at the Center,” said Michael. “I’d like to see this office open five days a week, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.”

There are more than 1,000 veterans in Cibola County. That is close to four percent of the total population if the 2,500 inmates in the three prison facilities are subtracted that were included in the census of nearly 27,000.

“I’ve heard we have more veterans per capita than any other county in the state,” said Michael. “I don’t know if that is true but I do know we have a lot of residents who are veterans. That said - we need to find a way to provide them services. Their county and I will do everything in my power to do that.”

Currently the office is only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“A slow start is better than nothing,” said Commissioner Gallegos. “Residents will no longer have to drive to Gallup or Albuquerque for these services.”

The office opened earlier this year, but Tuesday was the official grand opening, according to officials.


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