It’s a tough job market out there right now, especially with the national economy heading south for the winter. Fortunately, Workforce Wayne (WW) looking ahead and planning ways to strengthen the county’s labor pool by integrating and enhancing the various workforce services that already exist in the county, as well as developing some innovative programs that will make it easier for new and existing businesses and the workers they need to position themselves in the county.


It’s a tough job market out there right now, especially with the national economy heading south for the winter. Fortunately, Workforce Wayne (WW) looking ahead and planning ways to strengthen the county’s labor pool by integrating and enhancing the various workforce services that already exist in the county, as well as developing some innovative programs that will make it easier for new and existing businesses and the workers they need to position themselves in the county.

Not least among the new initiatives undertaken by WW is the hiring of two new staff members dedicated to spearheading the partnership’s workforce development efforts. The new staff introduced themselves at a press conference held in the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce Community Room Nov. 20, just up the stairs from the offices WW currently shares with WEDCO (Wayne Economic Development Corporation) in the Wayne County Visitor’s Center. Jennifer Porter, who grew up in Clarks Summit and is WW’s new Director of Workforce Initiatives, says she’s almost as excited about her new position as she is about the possibilities WW brings to the area.

“We might be a rural area, but it’s important for businesses that might be thinking about relocating here to see that our community is organized. The programs we’re working on right now will make WW the hub of the wheel in terms of information about the businesses in the area and the types of jobs they offer”

Lyndsay Birmelin, WW’s new Workforce coordinator and Lake Ariel native, agreed, “If you are a new business and you need employees, the website we’re developing now will be a great resource.” She went on to explain that the site is far from a finished product, but that when its completed, the goal is to make it a one-stop employment tool, with information on everything from positions available in various organizations to the particulars of salaries, benefits, etc. Prospective employees would be able to search a database of county businesses by industry, salary, or various other criteria to find out what kind of jobs are available in the area, and be able to find contact information and perhaps even a list of job openings in their field.

Some of the heaviest hitters in the Wayne County business community, government, and education infrastructure are represented on the WW Action Committee, including Woodloch Pines, Devereux, Linde Corp., Waste Management, the Wayne County Commissioners, Penn State University, the Honesdale branch of Lackawanna Community College, Wallenpaupack Area School District, Wayne Memorial Health System, the Wayne County and Southern Wayne Chambers of Commerce, WEDCO, Wayne County CareerLink Services, Wayne County Job Training, the PA Department of Welfare, Pocono Counties Workforce Investment Board, WIRED/Wall Street West, and Human Resource Center, Inc. These partners meet monthly to plan and implement the programs developed by WW. According to Porter, they are instrumental in steering the effort to strengthen the county’s economy by improving inter-organizational communication and cooperation.

Porter and Birmelin say that before their funding from a WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) grant made possible by Wall Street West runs out at the end of 2009, WW seeks to have the previously mentioned web-based employment tool up and running, which they hope will one day function as a clearinghouse for information on every employer in the county. Among the other achievements they hope to attain by the end of next year is to locate a shared learning facility which would provide distance learning, worker training, computers and technology to the workforce, launch an intense community outreach campaign to inform the community about the jobs and skills that will be required in the coming century, secure long term sustainable funding, and set up a series of local career centers in local libraries.

While major funding for WW’s initiatives is provided by the WIRED grant, which is itself a grant made possible by the US Departments of Labor and Commerce, the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, and private industry to fund Wall Street West’s workforce development, job training, and education programs; Porter says the grant doesn’t cover everything WW needs to do its job. The program is in need of nearly $11,000 dollars for everything from office supplies and a dedicated phone and fax line for the WW office to paying for development of the website and legal counsel.

If you would like to contribute to the WW, you can do so through WEDCO, which is the fiscal support mechanism WW gets its funding through. For more information about Workforce Wayne’s activities or what you can do to participate, send an e-mail to info@workforcewayne.org, or call Jennifer Porter, Director of Workforce Initiatives, at 253-5334.