Elkins WorkForce West Virginia sponsored an open house Friday, giving residents an opportunity to see the agency's accomplishments as well as what it offers for employees and employers.
Guest speaker for the event was Russell L. Fry, acting executive director of WorkForce West Virginia.
"In Elkins, the WorkForce West Virginia Center is available even on Saturdays to better serve folks who work," Fry said. "Computers with broadband Internet are available to the public, and workers are here to help people find places for training or retraining for individuals that have lost their job through no fault of their own."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Rick Bennett, manager of WorkForce West Virginia, welcomes attendees at the center’s open house Friday. The event showcased the many services offered to residents, including a computer lab that is open during regular business hours Mondays through Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
Fry said WorkForce West Virginia has played a big role in attracting new employers to the state.
"West Virginia did not have to borrow money for the unemployment trust fund," Fry said.
During the recent recession when unemployment skyrocketed across the nation, 22 states, including several of West Virginia's neighbors, borrowed $31 million from the federal government to cover unemployment insurance payments. West Virginia did not.
"This saved employers in taxes and attracted Macy's to our area," Fry said, referring to the new online fulfillment center Macy's has opened in Martinsburg. It's expected to employ as many as 1,200 workers.
He said the company was attracted to the Mountain State because it would not have to pay any additional unemployment insurance taxes.
Another point Fry discussed was that West Virginia is one of only three states offering different ways for unemployed workers to receive their payment by check, pre-paid credit card or direct deposit.
Specifically in Randolph County, the unemployment rate has dropped from 8.7 percent in January, to 8.2 percent in July.
"This is still larger than the state rates," Fry said. "But the trend is dropping."
He said he is very proud of the staff in the Elkins center and commends them on their hard work.
"There are more than 3,000 registered job seekers through the Elkins center and 1,000 registered employers," Fry said. "These folks do a great job of working with both groups."
Fry said he enjoys visiting the Elkins location and his wife's family.
"It feels like home every time I travel here," he said.
The Elkins office provides one-on-one assistance and has the largest database of jobs in the state. Those looking for employment opportunities can search online on WorkForce's computers during regular business hours Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
WorkForce WV also helps employees prepare for a new or upgraded position through training. Staff members are available to assist in preparing resumes and cover letters. They also give tips to help with interviewing skills.
Services provided through WorkForce West Virginia Centers include case management, vocational guidance assistance, assessment, job development contracts, referrals to job openings, resume preparation assistance, labor market information, job-finding workshops, veteran tax credit eligibility determination, civil services information and referral to partners and other agencies.
Additional information is available by visiting WorkForce WV at 1023 N. Randolph Ave., or by calling 304-637-0255.