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Workforce Development: New Iowa Centers Fuel Economic Growth

Iowa Workforce Development
Public Relations and Communications Bureau
1000 East Grand Avenue
Des Moines, Iowa 50319-0209
Telephone: (515) 281-5387
Toll Free: (800) JOB-IOWA or (800) 562-4692

For Immediate Release: March 31, 2004
Contact: Barbara Bobb
Telephone: (515) 242-6240

DES MOINES - The New Iowan Centers (NIC), a program of Iowa Workforce Development, have fueled economic growth and expansion in Iowa. There are now three successful New Iowan Centers located in Muscatine, Sioux City and Ottumwa, as well as outreach offices in Storm Lake, Perry, Ames, and Cedar Rapids. All of these offices provide new Iowans with a multitude of services. In the last eighteen months, the Muscatine office has assisted in the start up of 23 new businesses, conducted 72 diversity/sensitivity trainings, found permanent employment for over 750 people, found temporary employment for over 1,000 people and assisted over 300 individuals with housing issues, helping many become first-time homeowners.

The NIC programs have assisted hundreds of people with English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) classes and have initiated a pilot project of interactive ESL software in Muscatine. The Sioux City NIC staff has been successful working with local banks, cities and realtors in providing an opportunity for newcomers to become homeowners. The program has assisted over 40 families statewide that have spent years working as migratory laborers put down roots in Iowa communities, enrolling their children in Iowa schools and providing consistent labor to local farmers and agricultural companies.

The New Iowan Centers were established in 2000 as a response to the Iowa 2010 report. Barbara Bobb, the Bureau Chief of Targeted Services, established the first two centers, located in Muscatine and Sioux City, in the eastern and western doors of Iowa. These centers began providing one-stop services to new Iowans in an atmosphere that worked to connect new Iowans with their new communities by finding them employment and helping them overcome any language or cultural barriers. NIC staff worked with local government, businesses and agencies to identify and meet the unique needs of each community. NIC staff traveled Iowa, educating business, government and schools about the process of acculturation.

In 2002, another town, Ottumwa, was actively pursuing a New Iowan Center. The community worked together to provide half of the funding and successfully created the third New Iowan Center.

In August 2003, the Migrant Seasonal Farm Worker (MSFW) program was incorporated into the NIC. Five full-time MSFW Outreach Specialists are located in Ames, Cedar Rapids, Ottumwa, Storm Lake, and Perry. The MSFW Outreach Specialists focus on bringing one-stop services to migrant and seasonal farm or factory workers from April through October. MSFW staff provides traditional one-stop services by visiting with the worker either on site, by permission of the employer, or at their homes after they finish work. They assist with labor rights issues, housing, immigration, résumé building and job searches. The MSFW staff has developed working relationships with farmers and other businesses in their communities in order to completely facilitate the needs of the MSFW worker. From October through April, the MSFW Specialists provide New Iowan Centers? services to the communities in their regions.

For more information go to: http://www.iowaworkforce.org/centers/newiowan/index.html.


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