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County-based job services company pulls stakes


Sustained cuts in federal spending for job search services prompts decision

The private company that has provided Columbia County residents with job assistance and employment skills for more than the past two decades announced May 29 it was pulling out due to sustained cuts in federal support spending.

Management & Training Corporation, common called MTC, gave notice it was cutting short its three-year contract to provide employment services in Columbia, Clatsop and Tillamook counties and would vacate its St. Helens office June 30. The company has provided such services since 1990.

As a result, the Oregon Consortium and Workforce Alliance, which is composed of 27 rural Oregon county representatives, is seeking a replacement service provider and circulated a request for proposals earlier this week with the requirement for interested parties to respond by today, June 7. The services MTC provides are federally mandated.

“We anticipate by the mid part of next week to have a meeting set to choose an interim provider,” said Columbia County Commissioner Henry Heimuller, who represents Columbia County on the consortium. “We think that there is going to be some interest shown based on informal conversation around the state.”

MTC has one year left on its contract, which it had terminated according to contract terms. The interim provider is expected to serve out the remaining year, after which a longer-term contract would be sought, Heimuller.

MTC is a private company with a primary nationwide focus on the operation of Job Corps services and correctional facility management. Its MTC Works program in Columbia County is an anomaly in Oregon, where most job search assistance programs are managed by little more than a handful of nonprofits, such as the South Coast Business Employment Corporation out of Coos Bay.

Though it is ultimately a consortium decision to choose the new provider, Heimuller said the affected counties would have a strong voice in that process.

County, state and officials with MTC Works anticipate no interruption of job assistance services during the transition. Heimuller said MTC Works has been a model for the services it has provided.

“They have done an excellent job,” he said, adding the intention is for the new provider to retain and factor current MTC Works staff in its operations.

Karen Miller, MTC Works manager of the Columbia County office in St. Helens, said some higher profile examples of MTC Works operations include employment placement services for displaced Boise Inc. workers following that company’s mass layoffs in 2008 and 2012. The company also provides GED preparation work, and last year approximately 1,900 people in Columbia County sought its assistance, Miller said.

Miller, who has worked for MTC Works and its predecessor companies in Columbia County for more than three decades, said it has been unusual to watch federal dollars for job assistance services go down even as the nation has been struggling to recover from the largest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

“Over the years, the federal pot for money just kept getting smaller and smaller,” she said. “This is the first time I’ve seen it when the economy takes a downturn.”