Within the next 60 to 90 days, Emmetsburg, along with several other neighboring counties, will be losing its Iowa Workforce Development Office. The office, located in the Palo Alto County Extension Office on 10th Street, is one of some 36 offices around the state being closed as part of a streamlining effort and budget reduction plan from the state.
The Palo Alto County Office was a part-time office, open two days per week, utilizing space in the Extension Office in the old Carnegie Library building. However, the Emmetsburg location, along with Workforce Development offices in Estherville, Algona and Pocahontas, among others, were identified by Iowa Workforce officials for closure at the end of the Spring.
Workforce Development Agency Director Teresa Wahlert announced details of the agency's revised work force delivery system, which is designed on a scenario of local access points and regional integrated centers. The revised system means cutting the current 55 offices statewide down to 16 regional "one-stop" offices with an additional three satellite locations. The regional one-stop offices will be located in Davenport, Burlington, Carroll, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Creston, Decorah, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fort Dodge, Marshalltown, Mason City, Ottumwa, Sioux City, Spencer and Waterloo. The three satellite office locations will be in Fort Madison, Iowa City and Webster City,
To compensate for the closings of the smaller offices such as Emmetsburg, Workforce Development officials are working with local public libraries, as well as National Guard Armories, private colleges, community action agencies, community colleges, county Veterans Affairs offices and county courthouses to offer Internet access computers for the public to utilize for Workforce assistance. Clients will be able to utilize these links to register online for work or unemployment insurance benefits, rather than having to travel into an actual Workforce offices.
The actual closures of the 39 offices will begin at the end of August, based on when leases for office spaces expire in the various locations. When the offices are closed by Dec. 31 of this year, some 70 employees of the local offices will be affected by the closures.
A prime factor in the streamlining was the loss of federal funding that had been as high as $8 million per year. The closing of the 39 offices, coupled with the layoffs of personnel and reduction in expenses will result in a savings estimated at $6.4 million for the current fiscal year.