What ARRA you Buying?

Our auditor suggested that we seek ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) funds. Remember this is the federal program that distributed $787 billion in funds to boost our country out of the recession or to keep us from plunging deeper into recession. I replied to his suggestion by noting that funding for our programs is funneled through state agencies that have decided to put them to “other uses” than support or enhance existing services. For example, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation chose to use the 8.8 million dollars to provide services to 1,000 new DVR customers with disabilities and assist them in finding jobs in high demand, high wage occupations and new green economy jobs. The new program is called Project H.I.R.E (Hiring Individuals with disabilities who are Ready for Employment). “The Goal: full-time jobs (35+ hours per week) with benefits earning mid-to-high wages ($15/per hour depending on the area) in demand occupations – such as health care, information technology, green jobs, energy, manufacturing, aerospace, international trade, other stimulus projects”

These new clients or customers as DVR refers to individuals with disabilities were to be freshly minted graduates from our trade and technical schools so new partners were engaged to work on this project. So where are we at? So let’s look at the scorecard.

Goal:                                                                             Results

June-December 2009 – 200 persons placed in jobs       Outcome 6 people placed – 93 clients in plan

January – June 2010 – 200 persons placed in jobs

July-December 2010 – 300 persons placed in jobs

January – June 2011 – 300 persons placed in jobs

The $15.00/hour has been lowered substantially as has the placement expectations and the target job areas. So while this program was ramping up (incidentally the second round of contracts was just let with yet another extended ramp-up period) to place these 6 people, Morningside placed 44 individuals into jobs, individuals who happen to be substantially more disabled than the Project HIRE folks.

With minor enhancements to our program and given additional tools we could have substantially added to our numbers – I suspect we could have doubled the figure.

Where would you place your money if given the choice?

Oh by the way DVR wants to expand the program….I am certain that President Barack Obama isn’t a follower of my blog and has no idea that these funds are being squandered but I would bet that he would be disappointed in how “Obama bucks” as the press terms these funds are not being utilized to the maximum extent possible and that the dream of 1,000 jobs being secured in demand occupations such as health care, information technology, green jobs, energy, manufacturing, aerospace, international trade, other stimulus projects was just that a dream.

CEO Viewpoint is published by Jim Larson, CEO Morningside

This space is intended to share my thoughts and update the community on issues concerning Morningside and its clients as well sharing inspirational employment stories.

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Posted in State Policy