WISCONSINREPORT.COM (01/18/08) - Governor Jim Doyle has announced steps his Administration is taking to respond to the recent news that NewPage Corp., the new owner of the former Stora Enso North America, will permanently close papermaking operations in Niagara and one of three machines in Kimberly, affecting about 440 workers. NewPage has also acquired Stora Enso mills in Wisconsin Rapids, Biron, Whiting and Stevens Point. The Central Wisconsin area locations are not included in the NewPage announcement of the loss of jobs at the former Stora Enso operations in Niagara and Kimberly.
“This is bad news for Niagara and Kimberly, the hardworking families who will be affected, and the entire State of Wisconsin,” Governor Doyle said. “These are good jobs that are important to these communities and our entire state."
"I am committed to helping the Niagara and Kimberly communities and the hundreds of families who depend on the mill for their livelihood," Governor Doyle stated.
"I have directed my Administration to pursue all opportunities to assist the families who are now in transition and to work with local officials and business leaders to bring renewed economic development to the communities,” Doyle said.
Governor Doyle has directed his Administration to do the following:
· Meet with the company, and look for opportunities to bring new employers into the area and help existing employers grow to provide new jobs. The state will aggressively use the tools it has available, including tax credits, loans, and training resources, to encourage new investment in the region.
· Form and dispatch Rapid Response Teams to meet with the approximately 440 affected employees to expedite unemployment claims and give workers access to job training and placement services. The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development will contact the company and the union to set up initial Rapid Response meetings immediately to discuss available services and to schedule worker orientation meetings as soon as possible.
Affected workers have access to numerous services through their local Job Center to help them become re-employed, including job search and career planning assistance, resume assistance, job training, and access to job search databases. Workers can find out where the local Job Center is located, by calling 888-258-9966 toll-free, or going to www.wisconsinjobcenter.org/directory on the internet.
· Make available as needed up to $50,000 in Rapid Response start-up grant funding to initiate services for the affected workers.
· Work with the company and the union to petition for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits from the U.S. Department of Labor, which may allow for the extension of unemployment benefits for two years and up to $15,000 for additional education and re-training for eligible workers.
TAA is a federal program that provides assistance such as job search, relocation assistance, retraining, and income support to workers who have become unemployed because of foreign competition or imports.
· Explore applying to the U.S. Department of Labor for additional funding to assist workers as needed through the National Emergency Grant (NEG) program, which provides funding to states when significant events create a sudden need for assistance. Services available to workers include assessments, retraining, and job placement services.
This may also include funds for regional planning to determine the skill levels of the available workforce and the needs of area employers so best strategies can be identified to match workers to available jobs that may include retraining for specific occupations.
· Work in full collaboration with the State of Michigan to bring needed resources to the workers affected by the Niagara closure.