By PETER HUSSMANN
The Newton Workforce Development Office in the DMACC campus will close in the second phase of the department's rollout of a "new, enhanced" system that calls for the closure of 39 of its 55 current field offices.
Workforce Development announced the revised workforce delivery system that will focus on a new model of local access points and regional centers in a press release issued at mid-afternoon today.
"Multiple factors require Iowa to develop a new workforce system that is sustainable for the long term," said Workforce Development Director Teresa Wahlert. "By ensuring that more Iowans have an opportunity for services in their own communities, we can provide services faster and more efficiently to more Iowans on a timely basis."
Under the new plan, Iowa's current system of 55 field offices will transition into 16 regional offices in Burlington, Carroll, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Creston, Davenport, Decorah, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fort Dodge, Marshalltown, Mason City, Ottumwa, Sioux City, Spencer and Waterloo.
Additionally, there will be three satellite locations in Fort Madison, Iowa City and Webster City, along with hundreds of locally enhanced access points through armories, private colleges, community action agencies, community colleges, county Veterans Affairs offices, courthouses, public libraries and others.
Wahlert said there are current more than 60 access points operational with more than 190 workstations. The "enhanced system" will allow greater availability to the public through evening and weekend hours. Workforce Development also plans to continue to enhance technology based services throughout the new system.
The Workforce Development field offices will close in two phases throughout late 2011.
Offices to close in the first phase are Algona, Atlantic, Boone, Centerville, Charles City, Cherokee, Clarinda, Denison, Emmetsburg, Estherville, Fairfield, Glenwood, Harlan, Humboldt, Iowa Falls, Keokuk, Manchester, Maquoketa, Mt. Pleasant, New Hampton, Oelwein, Orange City, Osceola, Oskaloosa, Pella, Perry, Pocahontas, Red Oak, Shenandoah, Washington and Waverly.
Offices closing in phase two are Newton, Ames, Clinton, Muscatine and Storm Lake.
The office closures are expected to be completed by Dec. 31, 2011 and will affect between 75 and 90 employees across the state.
On Thursday, Democratic state lawmakers said they were considering calling a special legislative session in an attempt to override the veto of Gov. Terry Branstad who cut funding to the Iowa Workforce Development system.
Late today, Iowa Democratic lawmakers officially called for a special session to stop the closure of the Workforce Development offices. The letters sent to lawmakers can be downloaded below.