Steven L. Abrams
Mary Lou Berger
"An equal opportunity
From the desk of Commissioner Steven L. Abrams
It’s no secret that during the past two years, Florida and Palm Beach County’s economies have been among the hardest hit in the nation with unemployment rates ranging from one to three percent higher than the national average. However, the latest statistics show Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate for August 2011 was 11.0 percent – down 0.2 percentage points from the July 2011 rate of 11.2 percent – and a 1.3 percentage point decrease from the August 2010 rate of 12.3 percent.
I am pleased to report that I recently received some other good news from Palm Beach County Workforce Alliance – the county added 8,100 jobs over the last 12 months in categories that are key components of our economy, and job openings have increased 12.6 percent compared to this same time last year.
As of August this year, the county experienced an over-the-year employment growth in numerous industries including leisure and hospitality (+5,700 jobs), education and health services (+4,100 jobs), professional and business services (+1,700 jobs), other services (+400 jobs), transportation/warehousing (+300 jobs), and financial activities (+100 jobs).
There also were 14,978 advertised job openings in Palm Beach County in August 2011, an increase of 1,671 jobs (+12.6 percent) from August 2010. Since bottoming out in January 2009, there has been an increase in demand by approximately 5,301 job openings.
Palm Beach County Workforce Alliance is a nonprofit organization chartered by the state that provides specialized free services to both employers and jobseekers at three career centers located in West Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Belle Glade. They have been instrumental in placing thousands of jobseekers from entry level to executive positions. In their most recent program year (July 2010 to June 2011), Workforce Alliance placed 12,771 area candidates in jobs – a record number and a 19 percent increase compared to the previous year.
Workforce Alliance has an established track record of high performance among the 24 regional workforce boards in Florida, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks Florida no. 1 in the nation for its workforce and training programs in a recent annual evaluation. They remain committed to educating and training our local workforce, which is essential to the development of our local economy.
Some examples of the services provided by Workforce Alliance include job search workshops and training, career consulting, employers recruiting on-site, use of computers, phones and fax, and assistance for persons with disabilities and priority service for U.S. military veterans. Complete information about these services is available at www.pbcalliance.com.
At the same time, the county’s Economic Development Office (EDO) is working diligently in procuring new business to relocate to the area while providing other incentives for existing business to expand and grow by providing low-interest funding opportunities and/or tax incentives.
For example, a new or expanding business may apply for an economic exemption for improvements to real property and/or tangible personal property not already on the county’s tax roll. There is also the state’s Enterprise Zone Program that offers eight different tax incentives for new and existing businesses.
The EDO will also provide assistance with local business owners and entrepreneurs in obtaining low interest rate loans through local, state and federal agencies. One example is Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRB), a program designed to finance business and industrial expansions for companies with strong credit. The bonds are issued by the county with principal, interest and other costs of the bonds paid solely by the beneficiary company. IRBs finance up to 100 percent of the project costs, with loans up to $10 million available if the financing is tax exempt.
If you know someone who is looking for a job and/or a business owner(s) looking to expand or relocate, please pass this information along.
Please contact me if I can be of assistance or if you have any comments and/or suggestions. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or in my office at 561-355-2204 (West Palm Beach) or 561-276-1220 (Delray Beach).
Also, please visit my website at http://www.pbcgov.com/countycommissioners/district4/ for updates and links to county divisions and other governmental agencies.
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