Thursday, July 22, 2010
Job center result of teamwork
By SUE WATSON
The Marshall/Benton WIN Job Center was officially opened for business at 1 p.m. Monday with fanfare.
Thankful prayers, gratitude and well-deserved pats on the back were in order as the WIN Job Center was the result of hard-won battles and the formation of a broad coalition.
In effect, it was the result of a win-WIN situation.
Close to 100 people from the two counties, including elected officials and representatives from state agencies, as well as ordinary citizens, heard praise of the hard work that brought a full-time WIN Job Center to Holly Springs.
Marshall County Supervisor George Zinn, who spearheaded the effort to make the center a reality, served as emcee. He praised all municipal and county officials for doing something “pro-active to help the community,” calling the consensus building a local effort – a team effort.
“We have established something that can be built on as a unit,” he said. “Where we used to be able to do things alone, now we pool our efforts.”
Rust College President David Beckley welcomed the center to campus. Rust will host the center in the short term. He thanked elected officials for choosing the college as the site for the joint venture and encouraged officials to locate the permanent facility on the north side of Holly Springs near the Rust College campus.
Several local citizens - including Betty Yates, Edward Moses, Wayne Jones, Rodney Owens, Conery DeBerry - were given a large portion of the credit for “battling great odds to get the center in Holly Springs,” Beckley said.
“I commend this group. At your insistence we are here today,” he said. “These people said we will not rest until we get a WIN Center in Holly Springs.”
Conery DeBerry said the center was a dream of Betty Yates’ but left for a larger coalition to fulfill. He said the community has shown what it can do when it forms partnerships.
Drawing from the Preamble to the United States Constitution – “We the People” -– Moses said the WIN Center is the result of a collaborative effort.
“We, the people of Benton and Marshall counties, are their (the authors of the Constitution) posterity,” he said. “We, the people, are here today to promote the general welfare - a part of the great American story.”
Ronnie Joe Bennett, president of the Marshall County Board of Supervisors, said people do their own thing when times are good, but when times are hard everybody comes back together. He said more alliances have to be formed.
“When good times are jumping, we do things ourselves,” he said. “When times are hard, we’ve got to go out and plant a garden so everybody can eat.”
Ricky “Taterbug” Pipkin, president of the Benton County Board of Supervisors, said his county is proud to be a part of the partnership.
“This is not about unemployment, this is about employment, about going back and getting a GED,” he said.
Bill Mobley, executive director of the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority, said the WIN Job Center “is going to make my job easier.”
“It is another star, a very important day, another incentive to bring employers in for Marshall and Benton counties,” Mobley said.
“This day is a testament to not taking no for an answer,” said state Sen. Bill Stone, who along with the local delegation (Rep. Kelvin Buck, Rep. Jack Gadd, and Rep. Tommy Woods) corralled the necessary support for the center at the Legislature and from state agencies as well as at home.
Northwest Community College is a partner and is helping administer the program under the direction of David Bledsoe, director of workforce development at the college. State funds for the center are channeled through Mississippi Department of Employment Security and the Mississippi Development Authority to Three Rivers Planning and Development District to NWCC, which administers the WIN Job Centers in the district it serves.
Buck reviewed the history of MDES’ presence in Holly Springs, going from part-time and one day a week, to no presence, to e-WIN.
“Some of you probably thought that was the end of it,” he said. “Let us ask our citizens to take full advantage to get jobs.”
Byhalia Mayor Phil Malone likened the center to a bridge from one end of the county to the other (Byhalia to Potts Camp).
Holly Springs Mayor Andre’ DeBerry compared the opening of the center to a “giant first step” in transitioning from unemployment to opportunity.
MDES executive director Les Range attributed the success of the center to “local people coming together saying what they needed and wanted.”
“What this demonstrates, is that working together we can improve the workforce of Marshall and Benton counties and working together we can improve the workforce of Mississippi,” Range said.
Seventy-five individuals have visited the center in the first two weeks since it opened July 6. Lecia Becton, of Coldwater, who served at the Northwest Community College WIN Center, is director at the new center.
The WIN Job Center is located on Rust Avenue behind the Beckley Conference Center. Call 662-252-7893 for directions to the center or to inquire about services. The Workforce Investment Network (WIN) in Mississippi is an innovative strategy designed to provide convenient, one-stop employment and training services to job seekers and businesses.
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