We are critically concerned not only about the health issues of COVID but its impact on our economy and our business. 

Last week we had an unemployment rate of 16 percent. We are down now to about 11. But we still have got about 36,000 individuals in Cameron County that are out of work. We are hoping that businesses begin to reopen and rebuild our economy and we are taking some steps that we think will help. 

We applied for and received over $875,000 in grants funds from Texas Workforce Commission through the Department of Labor. These funds cover various types of assistance. Part of one grant is called layoff aversion. If a business is having trouble getting the resources to crank back up and rehire their employees we have some funding that can help. 

If a business needs to retrain its workforce and pivot to another delivery system of its products, we can help with that training. We can even help to some small extent on building the necessary precautionary plexiglass barriers and so forth that you now see in a lot of the stores that are reopening. 

But, mainly our money is for training. There are – and you have probably seen the notices – jobs that are not coming back. People are going to need to be retrained, take a new look at what their interests and capabilities are and come to the workforce centers and register for assistance from our training dollars. 

We not only have this $875,000 from the state, but we also have our regular funding, which is considerable. Our budget is about $34 million every year, half of which goes to child care assistance for anybody working or going to school. The rest of that funding is to help SNAP participants with training. We spend over a million every year on ITA (individual training account) training for individuals to up-skill their skills. 

So, my plea today is, not only if you are an individual who is out of work and needs support in training but if you are a business who needs help in restarting, please come to our workforce centers. I have Henry Castillo and Rey Tejada in the back. Henry runs our workforce centers and Ray is the director of our business services unit. 

We have gone over ever piece of all of these different kinds grants. We know what the requirements are and we need people to access the grants. We have a hard time selling them sometimes. We don’t have a lot of money for outreach and so forth so we do a lot of it with social media and stuff. But, please, know that we are here to help and we hope that you will come and access our assistance.

Editor’s Note: The above commentary is based on remarks made by Pat Hobbs, executive director of Workforce Solutions Cameron, at a news conference held Friday, Aug. 7, 2020, by Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr. Most of the news conference focused on Cameron County’s response to COVID-19. However, there was also discussion on workforce training, the impact of Hurricane Hanna, and Census 2020.

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