$918,702 in grant money for Whiting NewPage dislocated workers
PLOVER (WAOW) -- Dislocated NewPage workers in Whiting will receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grants to help them get back on their feet.
After NewPage workers from the Whiting mill found out their smokestacks would soon stop puffing, reality started to set in. In the past few months, hundreds of workers have been laid off. It began back in January, with some punching their final timecard just last week.
"I think that is so much coming at people all at once when you're just devastated to find out that you've lost your job," said Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point).
But NewPage leaders didn't leave workers without options. Almost as soon as they found out about the mill closure, talks began about helping workers find new jobs. The training center opened its doors in mid-March.
"You have to balance out what the needs are versus what you can provide and this then allows us easier access to most of them, more convenient for them," said Director of the Labor Education Training Center Cindy Kiesling.
They opened about five years after the Stevens Point job center closed down, but without much money to keep it running. Now with more than $900,000 from the federal government, employment specialists can continue to help former NewPage workers figure out what to do next.
"Without federal funding, we'd be closing in a couple of months because we just don't have those resources in our regular budgets to be able to do that," said Kiesling.
Kiesling said she doesn't expect to see each of the 360 displaced workers, anticipating about half will retire. But for those who want to move forward with new careers, the opportunity remains.
"We have to make sure we give people all the tools that are necessary for them to be successful in moving on to that next job or that next career," said Lassa. "I think that is what's really important."
Dislocated workers from the Whiting NewPage mill can come to the training center (1820 Post Road in Plover) on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM. Or they can set up an appointment between those same hours on Wednesdays.