WorkPath grants help would-be workers with incidental expenses

 

NEW HAVEN — You've been offered a job but you need to buy a uniform in order to begin work.  Or you need to pay a deposit to secure child care. Or you need to get your car fixed so you have reliable transportation to get you to work.

 

These are among the barriers that keep people from being able to find and keep a job.

A new initiative called the WorkPath Fund is designed to offer Connecticut parents with dependent children a solution: a modest grant to cover basic job-related costs to help surmount these and other similar barriers to employment.

The WorkPath Fund will provide a one-time grant of up to $1,000 paid directly to the vendor to cover job-related costs. The grants are designed to help families in need who are not eligible for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

A collaboration headed by the Connecticut Commission on Children, Liberty Bank Foundation, Workforce Alliance and the four other workforce investment boards in the state helped raised the initial $105,500 for the WorkPath Fund from a group of 11 nonprofit organizations, including the United Way of Greater New Haven.

"We know that when families have been out of work, they have often used up their savings and don't have the money needed to cover costs associated with starting a new job," explains United Way Executive Vice President Jennifer Heath.  "One of United Way's areas of focus is to help improve families' financial stability. This investment will help people get back to work so that they can support their families and contribute to the economy."

The WorkPath Fund traces its origins to legislation passed in 2010 by the Speakers Task Force on Children in the Recession to support parents with dependent children in times of recession and high unemployment. The fund was announced at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford January 30.

Grant applications will be available through CTWorks Career Centers. In New Haven, CTWorks is located at 560 Ella Grasso Boulevard (203-624-1493); and in Hamden at 37 Marne Street (203-859-3200). Anyone interested in making a donation to the fund can do so at WorkforceAlliance.biz/WorkPath.html.

 OLD SAYBROOK — The Old Saybrook Chamber of Commerce will explore the needs of the town’s home-based business community in a January 28 panel discussion. Panelists will include several successful home-based business-owners.

“Some of our [members] said we really need a group focused on home-based businesses,” explains Judy Sullivan, executive director of the Old Saybrook chamber. “Some have been working out of their homes for years.”

While no statistics have been formally compiled, Sullivan says anecdotal evidence points to a local increase in such operations.

“From my discussions there are more [home-based companies], because people are changing careers,” she says. Sullivan adds that while there seems to be no typical emerging home-based business-owner, many seek to fill a void in which everyday needs are not met.

“There’s one that’s a concierge business, doing errands and doing shopping,” Sullivan notes. “There are all different kinds [of home-based businesses].”

The idea is to create a group through which home-based owners can forge connections for goods and services that can help fuel their companies’ growth.

Among vigorous supporters of the concept of establishing a group for home-based businesses is Westbrook State Sen. Art Linares (R-33), who cofounded his own business at age 19 while a student in college.

“There’s a tremendous amount of home-based businesses in our area and in Connecticut,” says Linares, “so what we want to do is organize them and build a home-based business [group] at the Chamber of Commerce. Currently there’s not a home-based division of the chamber, so we’re looking to start that.

“More U.S. businesses are based out of [the entrepreneur’s] own home, so I think it’s a popular idea and we need to be encouraging it,” Linares adds.

Linares says he sees “many seniors opening up consulting businesses — real estate agents, financial consultants.”

While community business incubators that have been emerging over the past several years attract home-based business-owners with the lure of off-site office space for a modest fee, that concept is not what the Old Saybrook chamber is exploring, Linares explains.

“I think incubators are great,” he says. “I don’t want to compete with them. This [the chamber group] is for people who don’t have the resources to use an incubator. Even renting an office costs money.”

The January 28 panel will feature Carol Dahike, principal of Ashlawn Farm Coffee, Rich Bachand of Tarlov Financial, and Anne Garland of Anne Garland Enterprises. It will take place from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Pavilion at Saybrook Point, 150 College Street. There is no charge for admission, but RSVPs are requested. To learn more contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 A majority of employees who expected their usual end-of-year bonus for 2013 were not disappointed, according to a Robert Half survey. A staffing firm based in Menlo Park, Calif., Robert Half developed the survey in which more than 700 CFOs from companies based in more than 20 of the largest U.S. markets participated. An independent research firm queried those administrators. Fully two-thirds (67 percent) said they expected no changes in bonuses between 2012 and 2013. Seventeen percent said they expected bonuses to increase, and seven percent said they anticipated decreases.

“Bonuses can be a valuable way to acknowledge employees’ work and help retain valued staff members, many of whom have seen their roles expand in recent years without a commensurate spike in salary,” observed Robert Half Senior Executive Director Paul McDonald. “Firms that don’t offer bonuses, or plan to scale them back, may find other ways to reward their teams, such as training opportunities or staff celebrations. These non-monetary perks show staff members they’re valued and their contributions are appreciated by the organization.”

 NORWALK — HomeServe USA Corp. is relocating its corporate headquarters to Norwalk, bringing 130 jobs, the company announced last month. The move comes as a result of expansion that leaves the home emergency-repair business having outgrown its Stamford site. The new headquarters is located in the Merritt 7 Corporate Office Park. In addition to the new jobs, HomeServe will retain 109 positions.

“Our business has seen tremendous growth over the past decade as American homeowners have come to understand the value our service plans provide, and we’ve increased our employee numbers to meet that demand,” said HomeServe CEO Tom Rusin in a statement. “We’ve outgrown our Stamford office, which is the best kind of problem to have. This larger facility in Norwalk will better accommodate our expansion needs and position us for continued growth into the future.” The state is providing the company with financial incentives that include a $1 million grant to assist with expansion needs.

 Construction employment in Connecticut increased by 11 percent during the 12-month period ended November 2013, according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGCA), which analyzed federal employment data to assess construction job activity in states nationwide. According to AGCA, the industry had 52,600 jobs in November 2012 and 58,400 positions the following year — a net gain of 5,800 jobs. The analysis also ranked 339 metropolitan areas throughout the country for level of construction activity. With a 1,900-job gain over the year, the Hartford/West Hartford/East Hartford region ranked No. 30 nationally. The New Haven area, which had a net loss of ten jobs, according to AGCA analysis, ranked No. 273. Overall, construction employment in the U.S. rose in 211 metropolitan areas, decreased in 67 and remained “stagnant” in 61 over the year, AGCA noted.

 NORWALK — Continuing professional education providers specializing in commercial accounting will be able to enhance skills needed for accounting and reporting courses through a technical forum offered January 30 by the Financial Accounting Standards Board. The forum will take place 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the FASB office, 401 Merritt 7 in Norwalk. It will afford an opportunity for who provide continuing professional education within their organizations to discuss final and proposed accounting standards with FASB members. Attendees may participate either in person or via a simultaneous audio webcast. For more information, phone 203-956-3459.

 NORWALK — Job postings in Fairfield County were “relatively flat” from November to December of 2013, according to a FairfieldCountyJobs.com overview of job market activity for that period. In its monthly report, the regional job board site reports that December job postings “were up a modest two percent over November 2013.” The most frequently posted job titles were for positions in administration, accountancy and customer support, while industries with the highest number of postings included accounting, financial services and nonprofits. “Hot markets” for the month included Stamford, Norwalk and Greenwich, the report states. Fairfield CountyJobs.com is a division of AllCountyJobs.com.

“The December numbers indicate continued market stagnancy in the county,” AllCountyJobs CEO David Lewis noted in a release. “2013 finished out somewhat flat for the county in spite of some reported job gains in the state of Connecticut overall. The outlook for 2014 remains murky to neutral in terms of future regional job market growth. Lastly, until we see an industry emerge that leads the market in hiring, I predict that the markets will remain mostly flat through Q1 2014.”