Last fall, turf maintenance equipment manufacturer Jacobsen announced that it would combine its Charlotte operations with its specialized vehicles division in Augusta, Ga., resulting in nearly 200 layoffs. After filing a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) through the N.C. Department of Commerce, Jacobsen connected with the Mecklenburg County Rapid Response Team to ease the burden of the impacted workers. Along with Charlotte Works, the Mecklenburg County team is a collaboration among community partners like NCWorks Career Centers, Division of Workforce Solutions, Central Piedmont Community College, Department of Social Services and others.
North Carolina’s Rapid Response is an early intervention program that helps employers and workers facing layoffs, closures and other sensitive business actions. The Jacobsen project kicked off in February, and will continue through September, with a customized series of events designed for the 195 impacted employees. Events were held at the Jacobsen plant and spilled over into the NCWorks Mobile Unit, known as the state’s “career center on wheels.” There, dislocated workers updated resumes, picked up interviewing tips and registered with NCWorks Online. They also attended information sessions on training and education opportunities; qualifying and filing for unemployment; and how to access a variety of wraparound services.
“Although it’s still very hard, our workforce has been given a plethora of resources to help in our transition,” said Jessica Bradsher-James, Jacobsen’s human resources business partner. “These resources have equipped us on how to continue to take care of our families, maintain our personal growth and network within the professional realm.”
The ultimate goal is to help these workers land new jobs. At a recent session, area manufacturers Frito-Lay, MAUSER and Genpak presented a range of job opportunities in a growing advanced manufacturing industry.
“As we prepare to close our doors, the Rapid Response team has assisted in lifting the burden of panic and uneasiness [among employees],” says Jessica Bradsher-James, Jacobsen’s human resources business partner.