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Dept. to assist laid-off Kmart workers

While store and business closings mean many people will be out of work, they do not signal complete devastation, especially in the Wood County area.

The Wood County Department of Jobs and Family Services, located on East Gypsy Lane Road, provides assistance to anyone who needs help finding a job and will soon be catering to those currently employed at Bowling Green Kmart.

When Kmart officially closes its doors this June, more than 60 people will be out of a job, according to Jennifer Ruhe, executive director of the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce.

“That’s something you don’t want to see,” she said. “It’s always a loss when you lose jobs that offer experience.”

The Department of Jobs and Family Services offers help with job searches and locating a workplace desirable for those that seek guidance from the department.

“We deliver our services in a three-tier process,” said Ken Kritzar, director of the department.

The first step is building a resume, and the second step is locating a job that fits the client’s desire and skill level. However, if there is still no match after that, the department goes to what it calls intensive services to find out what kinds of problems the client is facing and how to provide extra help.

According to Kritzar, the Workforce Investment Act, which was passed in July of 2000, enforced towns to have a department set up to assist those who are laid off.

“If a store is laying off 50 or more people, they have to inform the state of Ohio,” Kritzar said. “That’s where we come in with a rapid response.” Kritzar said his department has already met with Kmart management and will be meeting with the employees during several sessions on April 16. He said he expects about 30 of those employees, who are mostly full-time, to seek help finding a new job.

The Department of Jobs and Family Services has been successful at placing most of its clients into new jobs the few times that a major lay-offs have occurred in Wood County, Kritzar said.

“We haven’t had many (layoffs) in Wood county, thankfully, in the last couple of years,” he said.

Most of the people the department helps find something similar to what they were doing before they were laid off. However, that is not always the case. Kritzar said the first priority is to look for a job desirable to the clients.

“There are some people who say, ‘I’d really like to do something else, but I don’t know what,’ ” he said.

No matter what any of the Bowling Green Kmart employees may be interested in doing, they can begin their job search whenever they choose and are encouraged to start early.

“They don’t have to wait until they are laid off to start using these services,” Kritzar said. “They can start using them right now.”

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