Baldwin Park Proposes Work Center

Staff Reports

Baldwin Park – If all goes according to plan, local residents may be on their way toward a few job leads by the end of summer. The possibility comes with great relief to Nick Hernandez, 27, who has recently become unemployed.

“Everyone needs help during unemployment because it could be a trying and discouraging time,” said the Baldwin Park resident. “A lot of people don’t know the right way to look for a job, such as networking, and how to tailor your resumes for exactly what you’re looking for.”

City officials said locals such as Hernandez have been the driving force behind an effort to open a WorkSource office in Baldwin Park. They have been in ongoing conversations with representatives from the Baldwin Park Adult School, WorkSource, the California Employment Development Department (EDD), as well as the Baldwin Park Business Association to get their plan into action.

Marc Castagnola, Baldwin Park’s Director of Community Development, said the city has been exploring the option for an in-town WorkSource office since last summer. WorkSource recently ran an office in Irwindale, he added, but its services were sometimes limited, and that facility eventually closed its doors a few months ago.

Since then, Baldwin Park Councilman, Ricardo Pacheco, has pioneered the effort to debut employment outreach out of the Baldwin Park Adult School along Maine Avenue. Pacheco reported that his city’s unemployment rate is at about 11 percent, the highest in the San Gabriel Valley for the last few years. That statistic is also above the state’s unemployment rate, which measures at about 8 percent.

Those figures won’t change until something is done to reach out to residents within the community, according to Pacheco. “There are not enough resources in our community to find jobs or for job training to encourage people to take advantage of what’s available out there.” he said. “Having something like this at the adult school would be a good start.”

According to its website, WorkSource California connects Los Angeles County job hunters with specialists, job listings, training resources, and even technical support to help get their foot in the employment door. The agency also links businesses with qualified candidates, training centers, and other assistance for their operations. WorkSource lists about 40 locations throughout Southern California – including one in El Monte – but creating a more local outlet for employment resources could benefit Baldwin Park residents and their surrounding cities.

“This is a resource where people that are looking for jobs or retraining or assistance can go. It helps residents connect with opportunities toward their future,” Castagnola said.

City officials expect the local WorkSource center would additionally be a hub for vocational training opportunities through the adult school; if all goes well, there is also a proposal to start a satellite office out of the facility as a way of expanding its services.

Finalizing plans for a Baldwin Park WorkSource office may take some time, organizers believe, mostly because each participating agency has its own set of stipulations and accommodations to be met. Project funding should not come at a great cost, if any, to the city, since most operations are run by county and state groups. Nonetheless, Castagnola said there is a strong interest in debuting a WorkSource office here.

Without a job source center within close proximity, Baldwin Park residents are often met with restrictions in time or reliable transportation to moving forward quickly toward employment, he said.

“We’ve heard this from many people. If someone has to take a bus to travel to El Monte and wait in line, they spend a whole day on the bus and commuting,” added Castagnola. “What they get in one day may not be as productive as what they could have gotten if it was closer to them.”

Hernandez couldn’t agree more. He said he had frequented the Irwindale WorkSource center and benefited from its services in the past; but now that the facility is closed, he’s been directed to use the location out of West Covina. Although he has his own transportation, Hernandez said the potential for a WorkSource center close to home is “actually perfect.”

“I really believe there’s a real need for that in communities with high unemployment and within any community really,” he said. “It’s an answered prayer.”