Additional emergency funds to help dislocated MMA workers, including four from Valley
Jul 05, 2012 | 229 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
EXCLUSIVELY ONLINE: ST. JOHN VALLEY — An additional $100,000 in federal funds is now available to help retrain former Maine Military Authority employees, on top of a nearly $500,000 dollar grant made last year. The initial plan was for 38 workers to get job training, but now officials say 47 have been or are receiving training; thus the need for additional funds and modification request to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Of the 47 currently being served under the grant program, four residents are from the St. John Valley, including one from Fort Kent, one from Madawaska, one from Sinclair, and one from Van Buren, according to Ryan Pelletier, executive director of the Aroostook and Washington Workforce Investment Board with NMDC.

Members of Maine’s Congressional Delegation announced the release of a supplemental National Emergency Grant from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The U.S. Department of Labor originally awarded $463,083, administered by the Northern Maine Development Commission and the Aroostook/Washington Workforce Investment Board, to help employees laid off from the Limestone military vehicle refurbishing facility.

The Maine Department of Labor and NMDC requested the modification after it became clear the need was greater than first anticipated.

“More of the dislocated workers are seeking retraining assistance as their unemployment insurance benefits begin to exhaust and are exploring new careers that these funds will be able to assist in their progress,” said Pelletier in a press release.

Maine Military Authority has laid off roughly 150 of its 350-person workforce due to a drop off in federal work orders. MMA had 194 workers as of the last week in June, according to company officials.

“In this tough climate, National Emergency Grants provide vital assistance that help workers get back on their feet,” said Congressman Mike Michaud.

National Emergency Grants are provided in response to large, unexpected economic events that lead to significant job losses. The money will help workers train for positions in high-growth industries, including health care, leisure and hospitality, business services and retail trade.

Ninety percent of the funds go to the Aroostook County Action Program Employment & Training Division to provide the training; NMDC retains 10 percent to administer the program.

The original grant award was made about four months after the initial request. The modification was granted in only a few weeks.