Ken Carlson

Stanislaus County’s economic development agency is reorganized

The agency responsible for spurring job growth and workforce development in Stanislaus County reorganized this week to comply with mandates of a federal act.

On Monday, the board of the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance voted to dissolve the organization, replacing it with the Stanislaus Business Alliance and a Workforce Development Board.

As the change goes into effect July 1, it’s not about cleaning house.

David White will remain as the chief executive officer and continue to lead Opportunity Stanislaus, a five-year campaign to encourage economic growth and raise the standard of living. The new organization is designed to be more private-sector-driven, White said.

“We are very excited to see the private sector take a greater role in what we see as an upward trajectory of commerce across all industries in the county,” White said.

County leaders could see they needed to change the model for the Business Alliance when the Workforce Innovation and Opportunities Act was signed by President Barack Obama in 2014. The federal government wants to privatize workforce retraining and assistance.

The county decided recently to seek proposals from private vendors for running services provided by the alliance, such as one-stop career centers and a rapid-response program for troubled businesses.

The alliance can bid on the contracts and is expected to make a strong case to continue running the rapid-response program. For years, it has provided assistance for downsizing companies to limit job cuts and helped laid-off employees get back in the workforce. Bids on providing those services are due May 23.

White said the alliance won’t likely bid on running the career centers in Modesto, Oakdale and Patterson, where people receive help with résumés, training and job searches.

The county Board of Supervisors will create a Workforce Development Board to review proposals from vendors and choose the contractors. That board won’t be associated with the Business Alliance.

County supervisors plan to appoint up to 25 members to the Workforce Development Board in June. More than half the appointees will be representatives from business, but the county also is looking for representatives from labor, community-based organizations, education and training, and economic and community development.

On Monday, business leaders were named to an 18-member board of directors and executive committee to oversee the Stanislaus Business Alliance. The executive committee includes former county supervisor and businessman Jeff Grover, chairman; and Frank Otis, Ron Jackson, Paul Van Konynenburg, Richard Coffey, Chris Lehikainen and Judy Pallios.

Other board members are James Brenda, Sean Carroll, David Darmstandler, Lynn Dickerson, Joe Duran, Stephen Endsley, Brian Fiscalini, Jeff Foster, Warren Kirk, Daryn Kumar and Dillon Olvera. The alliance board is expected to take on additional members.

The alliance has operated under a business-style model for the past 14 years, but the agency “was never able to shake the perception that (it was) run by government,” Supervisor Bill O’Brien said in a news release on the reorganization.

“Now, with a new and completely separate organization led solely by business, our county will see increased economic and job growth,” O’Brien said.

County meetings are set

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors will hold a workshop Friday on charting the county’s future. The board will meet at 9 a.m. in the Salida Fire Protection District station at 5551 Ciccarelli Road.

The Salida Municipal Advisory Council will hear a presentation on the town’s Mello-Roos district from Becky Meredith, senior director of business services for Modesto City Schools. The Salida council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the library community room, at 4835 Sisk Road.

To apply for the Workforce Development Board, go to http://www.stancounty.com/board/boards-commissions.shtm and click on the general application for boards and commissions. Applicants also fill out a Workforce Development Board supplemental questionnaire. For information, call 209-525-4494.

Ken Carlson: 209-578-2321

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