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Spokane County has new way to help job seekers

Wed., June 12, 2013

A modernization of the way Spokane trains and places workers to match needs in the local labor market won approval of Spokane County commissioners on Tuesday.

They voted unanimously to change the Spokane Area Workforce Development Council from a Spokane city department to a new nonprofit organization that will be more independent and flexible.

An agreement between the county and city of Spokane outlines the new arrangement in which a separate consortium from both governments will receive federal Workforce Investment Act funding each year on behalf of the Workforce Development Council. The consortium will appoint members of the council board and review its budgets and strategic plans. The consortium will also have authority over hiring of the council chief executive officer.

Mark Mattke, chief executive officer of the council, said the change ends the council’s 38-year history in city government. Last year, the council relocated its offices from City Hall to the Max Snyder Building at Spokane Community College.

The council already is operating in a closer partnership with Community Colleges of Spokane, reducing duplication and allowing for greater leveraging of resources, Mattke said.

Mattke serves as chief workforce development officer for the community college system.

The council oversees $6 million of annual funding for job training, professional development and job candidate searches. It directs activity at the main WorkSource Spokane center at 130 S. Arthur St., where programs are offered in conjunction with the state Employment Security Department. About 25,000 job seekers go there every year.

In addition, smaller WorkSource sites are available for job seekers across the county.

A local board with representation from businesses directs the activities to match needs of the area job market, Mattke said.

Nonprofit status will allow the council to seek more private philanthropic grants, he said.

The Spokane City Council is scheduled to take up the change on Monday.

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