EPA awards $200,000 to Springfield for job training program

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Springfield is getting some federal help to put more people to work.

A $200,000 grant to The Missouri Job Center aims to provide job opportunities in the city’s northwest quadrant. The grant funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will be used to recruit, train and place local unemployed and underemployed individuals in full-time, sustainable, green jobs in a range of environmental fields. The grant comes from EPA’s Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (EWDJT) program.

The grant is one of only 18 made available nationwide, as part of a $3.5 million grant package. EPA’s grant is expected to provide funding to enroll at least 56 trainees in the program, with a goal of placing at least 35 graduates into the local job market in specialized green job positions, such as site cleanup, ecological restoration, and lead and asbestos abatement at brownfields remediation projects.

This EWDJT grant will prioritize the green job training services to eligible residents of 19 census tracts within the Springfield city limits, encompassing these specific neighborhoods: Bingham, Doling Park, Downtown, Fairfield Acres/Bissett, Fassnight, Grant Beach, Heart of the Westside, Midtown, Robberson, Rountree/Walnut, Tom Watkins, Weller, West Central, Westside, and Woodland Heights.

“We are pleased to receive this award and think it will help our Zone Blitz efforts to secure jobs for residents in our under-resourced areas of the community,” said Greg Burris, City Manager. Burris said the Departments of Workforce Development and Planning & Development worked together to secure the grant. The City has a history of positive partnerships with the EPA, including cooperation on a Brownfields Program that works to assess, clean up and facilitate the development of potentially contaminated properties known as “brownfields” within the city of Springfield.

Specific training offered through the new training program will include certifications in OSHA Hazwoper; OSHA 10; Environmental Sampling and Monitoring; Trenching and Excavation; Confined Space; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP); Lead Abatement Worker; Asbestos Worker/Handler; Stormwater; Forklift Driver; First Aid/CPR; and Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).

“These training classes are the keys to full-time, green jobs that pay well because they are in demand,” EPA Regional Administrator Mark Hague said. “For communities like Springfield, this helps build a workforce that can reclaim and revitalize environmentally challenged properties to benefit the community.”

According to Mary Ann Rojas, City of Springfield Workforce Development Director, partners in the Missouri Job Center’s implementation of the grant include the Ozark Region Workforce Investment Board, Environmental Works, Gerken Environmental, Southwest Missouri Safety Company LLC, C1 Truck Driver Training, Bryan University, and Greenfield Environmental Trust Group Inc.