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Politics & Government

Six Months After Unrest, Job Training Comes to Sherman Park Neighborhood

Marti Mikkelson
DWD Secretary Ray Allen announces job training programs in Milwaukee on Tuesday

Not long after violence broke out in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood in August, Gov. Walker dispatched mobile job banks to the central city. He was responding to the calls for state help, to address the lack of job opportunities in the area. Now, a half-year later, phase two has begun.  On Tuesday, the state announced it was providing several hundred thousand dollars to help train residents for jobs.

Ray Allen made the announcement to about 100 people who packed into a room at Word of Hope Ministries on 40th and Center. Allen is secretary of the Department of Workforce Development. He says the nearly $500,000 Wisconsin is providing should help prepare hundreds of Milwaukee residents for jobs.

“They will benefit approximately 600 workers with 13 local employers in health care, child care, food production, printing, construction, manufacturing,” Allen says.

Allen says several companies in Milwaukee’s central city plan to hire the newly trained workers. Those employers include Master Lock and the St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care. Other jobs would be located farther away, such as at Quad Graphics in West Allis.

One organization that will house training sessions is Word of Hope Ministries. Bishop Charles McClelland says they’ll be geared for people in the neighborhood.

“We see this as an opportunity to impact lives, to improve families and to deter crime because jobs still remain a great asset to crime deterrent,” McClelland says.

McClelland says the money will help train people in soft skills, such as how to write an effective resume and how to dress for the job. Right after the news conference, a couple dozen people went downstairs to the basement of the church where training was to begin.

Benjamin Godbolt says he has a job but came to gather information for friends. Godbolt says he lives in the Sherman Park neighborhood and has noticed a difference since last summer’s unrest.

“I see a lot more people coming together since before it happened, so that’s a good thing. Hopefully with this program coming in now, a lot more people will get employed and maybe a lot of happy faces instead of sad faces,” Godbolt says.

One person who came to the church seeking employment is Cornetta Smith. She says she’s grateful for the training money.

“I found out that they give out jobs here some time ago and I’ve told other people to come down here,” Smith says.

As for the first phase of the program – the mobile jobs center the state dispatched in summer, DWD Secretary Ray Allen says it was a success.

“We’ve served a couple hundred individuals and we’re in the process of tracking them now. We know that a reasonable percentage of them have gotten jobs but we are still gathering numbers on that,” Allen says.

The mobile office helped people search for jobs, apply for them and connect with services they may need, such as child care. Allen says the state will arrange for another mobile jobs bank to visit Milwaukee’s central city next week – this one will help veterans find employment.