We all hear those commercials that offer great incentives for new customers. Kristen Floyd, director of the Utah Department of Workforce Service’s Bear River Service area, says you don’t get all those great things if you are an existing customer. On KVNU’s Crosstalk show Wednesday, Floyd said the department’s new BEAR project, BEAR stands for Business Expansion and Retention, hopes to reverse that philosophy. “Instead of always paying attention to what new companies we can bring into our area,” Floyd said, “and what new businesses we want to pay attention to and give incentives to, this program is really set up for us to go out and pay attention to our existing companies that we have here and find out what do they need, or what do they not need, how can we stay out of their way or how can we engage. Just really where are they in expanding or retaining their businesses?” Floyd said there is a BEAR Community Council with all kinds of community partners, such as the Bear River Association of Governments, Economic Development and the Chamber of Commerce who meet together and decide what are the best ways to help local businesses. One aspect of the program is to improve the quality of the workforce. At one time unemployment was almost 10 percent in the Utah Department of Workforce Service’s Bear River Service area, with the worst figures coming from Box Elder County. But Floyd says the unemployment figure is under 4.5 percent right now in the Cache County area. On KVNU’s Crosstalk show, Floyd said she gives a lot of credit to a new philosophy toward temporary assistance, referred to as the Job Exchange Program. Floyd said the customers coming into offices in Cache, Rich or Box Elder County see the change when they first walk through the door. “So instead of having a front desk where you just line up and we point you to a service, we now have staff that are available right when you come in to our offices,” explained Floyd. “We still have all of all of the resources there and available to you to help you with the job search process or to apply for temporary assistance as you need that. “But our approach has changed and we are fully engaging you and everyone in the process of re-attaching to the workforce. That’s our ultimate goal.” Floyd said employers benefit from this, job seekers benefit and it lessens the time they are on temporary assistance.
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