OTTUMWA — Seven representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor from the Chicago region received a firsthand look at how the community of Ottumwa interacts with its local Job Corps center.
Tuesday, Job Corps Community Relations Council presented its perspective on how the relationship has blossomed since its inception.
Currently, the local center is at capacity with 237 students enrolled. Next week, the center will have a surge in capacity, according to Mark Douglas, the center's director.
“Our program is about getting our students employed,” Douglas said. “And we always say that the Job Corps program is not a hand-out program, it’s a hand up. That’s what we are doing here in Ottumwa.”
The local program’s goal is to get students employed or move them on to higher education or advanced training. The final option is to help them get into the military.
“We want to challenge our students to reach their highest potential,” said Douglas. “We take a comprehensive approach in developing the whole student.”
Ottumwa’s Mayor Tom Lazio said getting a Jobs Corps Center was a collaborative effort of many different entities within the local community and county. “Just look around this campus. It’s a $30 million investment. It’s the beginning of a lot of good things at the airport and the air base.”
More important, Lazio noted, is the payroll dollars that turn over six or seven times. Job Corps is an asset to Ottumwa. “It’s a real economic boost to our community and the surrounding communities,” he said. “We want to see it continue to grow and get better.
He also noted the programing helps young people have the opportunity to better their lives through education and receiving specialized training.
One of Job Corps local training partners is Don Pilkington of MH Equipment. His business is highly supportive of the local program. On Tuesday, he presented the Job Corps center with a new pallet jack for use in the classroom.