Holly Gatzke, UNR Cooperative Extension Educator in Lincoln County, presented a proposal to county commissioners July 25 for permission to apply for grant money of $180,000 each for the adult and youth Workforce Connections.The funding would expand the program’s operation to service the Mesquite/Overton/Moapa area.

This would be in collaboration with local groups and the Cooperative Extension in that area.

Commissioner Varlin Higbee gave his support and explained that local elected officials have reorganized their program in the last year and now have what is called a One Stop Program. He said, “This allows a person who is out of work and needs training for a new career to get all that’s needed at just one location, instead of having to go here for one thing, over there for another, and still a third place for something else. One group will submit a bid for all and then the group that wins the bid will gather the subcontractors from across town and have them all in one place.”

He said Workforce Connections has asked the Lincoln County Extension to do this because of the success this program has had. “It will be able to work successfully in the Mesquite area as well.”

Gatzke said, for the Lincoln County program, “This is an opportunity to expand down there for a couple of reasons. One, my counterpart, Carol Bishop, is down in that area and she says they are in dire need down there for this type of program, and I have even had feedback from the community of Mesquite itself asking for assistance. We contacted the extension office that covers the Mesquite and Moapa area and worked with them. I even asked them straight up if they saw a need for workforce. And their immediate answer was yes. Then we talked with others and determined there was a strong support for such a program in the area.”

She added, “It’s an opportunity to provide something for Mesquite they really need. They have a higher unemployment rate than does Lincoln County, and we could work with new businesses wanting to come there to find them the employees they need. It would also be a great way to create great relations with the City of Mesquite.”

In addition, the City of Caliente has been working with the water and sewer agencies in Mesquite, “and we are looking at doing a collaborative training program with them,” Gatzke said.

If the program does go forward, she said “Carol (Bishop) would be on the ground working at that end, making sure it is running right, and we hire people down there like we have people hired here to run it. However, she said, “We would have to run the money through Lincoln County because we need somebody, an agency that is well established in handling the bookkeeping to do that.”

The targeted start date is October 1, 2016, Gatzke said.

The Workforce Connections office in Las Vegas office covers Nye, Lincoln, Clark and Esmeralda Counties,
“It’s a stretching of our office to go there,” she said, “but I think there is a benefit that is really needed because they don’t have a workforce office and haven’t had a stable contract or one up and running like this for years, like we have been able to do here in Lincoln County.”

Higbee said if it proved successful, when the contracts are renewed in a few years, it could expand upwards of $400,000 to $600,000.

After listening to Gatzke’s presentation, commissioners unanimously approved the proposal for the grant application with the understanding they have a chance to review the final proposal when developed.

Gatzke said Workforce Connections has tightened up the rules, “that you have to have 10 to 15 years of a good financial system in place before you can apply for a contract, and I think the local business development agencies in Mesquite were denied because of that, but we would be willing to collaborate with them.”

Paul Mathews asked what would be the benefit to Lincoln County. Gatzke said she thought the major benefit would be good will relations between the county and the Mesquite/Moapa areas. “It’s something we can give back. Often we don’t have that opportunity.”