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Rapid Response team visits New Era

All too soon, the workers at the New Era Caps Demopolis facility will be looking for another job, but they will have a head start on other unemployed people thanks to the state’s Rapid Response team.

The Rapid Response team is made up of Allen Friday of the governor’s office of workforce development, Larry Jowers of the Alabama Career Center of Demopolis, Elizabeth Abernathy of the children’s health insurance program of the Alabama Public Health Department, LaSha Nelson of Alabama Southern Community College’s Thomasville campus and Leroy Nicholson of the AFL-CIO union.

“What the job of the Rapid Response team is to respond to plant closings and layoffs,” Friday said. “We try to provide them with information on programs and services that become available to them when they become laid off.

“We talk about things like unemployment, state employment services, job training programs and opportunities that could be available to them locally as well as other human resource programs and agencies.”

The Rapid Response team met twice with New Era workers on Tuesday and will meet twice today (Wednesday).

“A lot of people think they know something about some of these programs,” Friday said.

“Generally, they have just a little bit of information, and we try to answer some of the commonly asked questions about the eligibility factors, how to go about accessing these programs and services.

“We talk about using the system and help people to access that system and use that to try to help them in the job search and getting back to work,” he said, “whether that’s interviewing with employers, filling out job applications, submitting resumes or going through a training route — that’s what we’re here to do today.”

Demopolis plant manager Alvin Williams was excited about having the Rapid Response team on hand to help the New Era workers continue their careers once the plant is shut down in the coming weeks.

“It’s important that they be able to have access to all of these programs, because no one knows what each individual will need as they go through it,” he said “They are providing a tremendous amount of information to our workers at one time, so we will make sure that they understand and answer any questions they may have after the sessions are complete.”