Today Cook County and the City of Chicago officially launched the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership (CCWP), consolidating their separate employment assistance agencies and naming two board chairmen for the new entity, President Preckwinkle announced.
Dr. Larry J. Goodman, chief executive officer of Rush University Medical Center, and Frank Clark, former CEO of Com-Ed, will chair the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership Board. Karin Norington-Reaves heads the new entity.
“This is an exciting time for regional employers and residents seeking a better way to connect. Our city-county collaboration offers a re-imagined approach that will benefit companies, employees and taxpayers,” President Preckwinkle said. “Mayor Emanuel and I announced this merger less than a year ago, and I want to thank those who dedicated countless hours to create a Partnership that will provide a new level of service to jobseekers in a difficult economy.”
The CCWP creates a seamless operation that maximizes available positions for job-seekers and offers companies a much larger applicant pool. The organization will assist residents of Chicago and suburban Cook County with employment training, placement and educational opportunities, offering a centralized, transparent and efficient partner for businesses in the area that is focused on training residents for needed job skills and placement into those jobs.
“This new partnership will streamline our efforts, and allow us to focus on the primary goal of getting good jobs for our residents, so they can build a better life for their families,” Mayor Emanuel said. “By collaborating with Cook County, we are able to build a better system which will create economic opportunity throughout the region.”
By combining disparate agencies, the city and county will reduce administrative costs and expand regional job creation. The result is improved service delivery to residents seeking employment solutions.
“In the previous system, an Austin resident could not receive service at the Maywood Comprehensive Center—the closest to his home—simply because he resides in local area 9 instead of 7,” explained Karin Norington- Reaves. “Now, by combining resources, job seekers will have access to a much larger database, and can take advantage of a revitalized agency with a streamlined process.”
In October of 2011, President Preckwinkle and Mayor Emanuel announced that the three separate Local Workforce Investment Areas – Chicago, Northern Cook and Southern Cook – would be combined into a single entity. Previously, those three agencies oversaw federal workforce development funds and programs separately, in a duplicative and inconsistent manner.
The CCWP is funded by the federal Workforce Investment Act and other grants. By creating one centralized, non-profit workforce agency for the entire regional labor market, the CCWP is better able to compete for a shrinking fund pool. For example, in June, the partnership successfully obtained a $3 million federal grant to implement an integrated workforce information system.
The reconfiguration has led to significant cost savings for the county through the elimination of redundant functions, the more efficient use of outside resources, and less real estate. All of these factors will save roughly $2 million in administrative costs for the Chicago and Cook County.