Monmouth County’s Workforce Investment Board (WIB) continues to help train workers and assist businesses when they need to hire employees.

The WIB recently received a $543,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to oversee the training of unemployed workers for green industries. A component of the grant is a hiring incentive that essentially reimburses employers for the wages of newly hired staff. Up to $4,000 is available for each qualified new hire.

Also, the county’s Division of Workforce Development held an open house recently for Secova, a benefits administration company that had 80 positions to fill. More than 70 jobseekers were interviewed at the WIB offices and many were hired on the spot. Recruiting services are available to any local businesses who contact the Division of Workforce Development.

To ensure that the county is plugged into the needs of area businesses, job counselors and jobseekers will join forces on Feb. 24 for a “World Café” to be held at the WIB offices, 145 Wyckoff Rd., Eatontown. The purpose is to brainstorm about job development. Ideas generated will be used by the WIB to develop meaningful programs to help the unemployed find jobs. Contact the WIB through the Department of Workforce Development at 732-683-8850.

To highlight businesses in Monmouth County, the county’s Department of Economic Development is sponsoring a “Made in Monmouth” event on Saturday, March 31, at the Multipurpose Activity Center at Monmouth University. The idea is to showcase the depth and variety of talents that give Monmouth County a vibrant manufacturing base.

“Made in Monmouth” is an offshoot of Grow Monmouth, the highly successful business growth program begun by the Department of Economic Development. Grow Monmouth officials have met with hundreds of business, civic and government leaders in recent months to provide state-of-the-art information services. It has become a major public-private project to create and preserve jobs in Monmouth County.

More than 100 manufacturers have been invited to display their wares at no cost. Meanwhile, producers and manufacturers are encouraged to contact the department at (732) 431-7470 to reserve a table. The public is invited to attend.

Last year’s Hurricane Irene affected 82 road and bridge structures within the county, saturated trash at the Reclamation Center and produced tons of brush. Most roads and bridges were repaired and open within a week, with the remaining four opened within two weeks.

It turns out that was the easy part. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) demanded detailed documentation on each repair with engineering justification in order to obtain federal reimbursement.

The county’s Department of Public Works and Engineering has received $877,910 to date. On Feb. 1, the Department submitted 39 reimbursement requests totaling $2,932,973, and by the end of February another $215,373 in claims will be submitted to FEMA. All told, the county expects to receive $4,026,256 in federal reimbursements for hurricane damage.    

Recently, concerns were raised over the Board of Chosen Freeholders’ decision to rescind the pay-to-play resolution it had been using for the past several years and instead follow the state statute and guidelines. This decision was made after careful consideration.

The county’s pay-to-play rules were creating uncertainty among bona fide contractors seeking to do business with Monmouth County because our rules differed from many of the other counties and municipalities in the state. The Board decided to the rules should be uniform.

It is not the Board’s intention to conduct business any differently; it will continue to award contracts to the lowest qualified bidders. The Board remains committed to pay-to-play reform, but the freeholders believe it should be addressed on a statewide basis.

Lastly, the county’s Office of Shared Services has launched the Shared Services Spotlight, a periodic newsletter that aims to inform municipal, school and other governmental officials about the newest trends and opportunities in shared services. Government entities that wish to receive the newsletter should contact Steve Callas, the Shared Services director, at 732-577-8709.

Thomas A. Arnone
Monmouth County Freeholder 

* Thomas A. Arnone is Deputy Director of the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders.