Help in starting new careers and seeking new jobs after being relocated is now available to military spouses and civilian defense workers residing in Pierce and Thurston counties. The majority of a recent $4.8 million grant will help 600 displaced military spouses who relocated to Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) with their husbands or wives. Additionally, the grant will provide training and job-seeking assistance to 225 Department of Defense civilian workers who were laid off as a result of the merger of the two military bases in early 2010.
“As the host city to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and as one of the economic development partners that applied for the grant, the City of Lakewood is thrilled to be able give back to those who have given so much to our country,” said Ellie Chambers-Grady, economic development manager for the City of Lakewood. “Military spouses often times give up their careers to follow and support their spouses. This grant will go a long way in integrating these new residents into our local workforce and adding valuable jobs to our local economy.”
The National Emergency Grant was made available through U.S. Department of Labor as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action of 2005 and the subsequent relocation of military personnel and families to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The grant funds will assist BRAC impacted workers upgrade their skills and/or prepare for new careers. Services will include: career coaching, job training, supportive services and employment linkage. The grant also will assist in identifying skill gaps in new and emerging industries critical to the economic growth of Pierce and Thurston counties. It is the goal of the grant program to enroll 825 people into the job assistance program this summer.
From 2003 to 2010, total personnel stationed at JBLM increased by about 38 percent to a total population of more than 45,000. It is estimated that more than 6,000 spouses, family members and contractors will relocate due to these military personnel moving to the joint base.
The grant was awarded to the Washington State Employment Security Department in partnership with WorkForce Central, City of Lakewood, Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council, Thurston Economic Development Council and Tacoma-Pierce County Economic Development Board.” WorkForce Central, the workforce investment board for Pierce County, and the Pacific Mountain Workforce Development Council, the workforce investment board for Thurston County, will implement the program at a local level. The Stone Education Center, located on base, serves as the Joint Base Re-employment Center providing easy access to those seeking new jobs in the two-county area.
Individuals interested in participating in the grant program can call (253) 966-7366. Businesses that are interested in hiring from this talent pool should call (253) 591-5450.