Springfield, MO

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Employment ...Penmac to expand with a new training center

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by Karen E. Culp

SBJ Staff

Penmac Personnel Services is expanding, adding a 3,600-square-foot training and resource center to its holdings.

Penmac is now located at 447 South Ave., where it occupies two buildings. The company has acquired a third building, on Patton Street, and is in the process of renovating it for a July 1 completion date. The new center will be a training and resource center to help better prepare the people who come to Penmac seeking employment.

The need for such a center in the Springfield area has come about because of welfare-to-work initiatives on the state and federal levels.

"We've been going through a process of evaluating how we can better serve this population that is coming to us and seeking employment. We've faced problems with child care and transportation, and we have also seen a need for some readiness assessment. We also know we have to focus not only on getting these people a job but on helping them keep that job," said Patti Penny, president and founder of Penmac.

Contained in the new training center would be services such as Graduate Equivalency Diploma classes, safety training, literacy tutoring and a resource library for people who need to identify places to get child care, more training or help with transportation.

Penmac is working with the Ozarks Literacy Council to get literacy training for those who need it, and with the English as a Second Language program at First and Calvary Presbyterian Church, Penny said.

"The agencies that touch these people now will be key in our development of this program," Penny said.

Penmac serves a 16-county area in southern Missouri now, and the idea behind the new center is that Springfield will be the hub for that region and the training that takes place at the new center could be transported to other areas, Penny said.

Tony Moore has been hired by Penmac to be the administrator of the new center. He said that Penmac is an important intermediary between the people who need work and employers, Penmac's clients, who have jobs.

Since the labor market is tight Springfield has hovered around 3 percent unemployment for several months now it is necessary for Penmac to pay close attention to the ways it can fill those jobs that it has to fill on a daily basis.

"We and others like us are an important part of the puzzle because we can reach out to those agencies who need to find employment for these individuals, and then get those individuals much more prepared to go to the job site," Moore said.

Penmac will also have to address many of the common problems for those who are seeking work, such as child care and transportation. The company would like to form a partnership with the YMCA to help provide some child care and would also like to take advantage of some transportation systems that are available, Moore said.

In addition to basic services and skills, Penmac hopes to provide more advanced training for those who want to further their skills, such as computer, industrial or safety training. The company offers some training along those lines but wants to work with area colleges to help people add to their skills, Penny said.

The company will probably seek federal grant money for the development of some of its programs. Though the center will be a resource for the welfare-to-work initiative, Penny said, it will benefit everyone who is seeking a new job or looking to upgrade skills.

"We really see this as a service we'll be providing to the entire community," Penny said.

Work started on the Patton Street building March 15. Wirt Construction is the general contractor, and Butler, Rosenbury & Partners is the architect. Penmac has a total of 106 employees in its offices and may add a few more as a result of the expansion. The company has 24 offices in six states and is 11 years old.

Penmac has about 600 clients throughout its organization to whom it supplies both temporary and permanent personnel. About half of its business is with small employers who have fewer than 100 employees.

The company supplies staff for the industrial, light clerical and transportation industries.

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