Workforce center settling in at new location

ANDREW WINEKE Updated: November 8, 2011 at 12:00 am • Published: November 8, 2011

The computers in the resource room at the Pikes Peak Workforce Center were crowded with job seekers on a recent afternoon.

In October, the workforce center joined many of El Paso County’s departments at the new Citizens Service Center at 1675 Garden of the Gods Road. The hope was that putting the center’s employment resources and training alongside the Public Health Department, Motor Vehicle Department and other agencies would give people one-stop shopping, said Jeanne Cotter, the center’s public information officer.

Three weeks after the move, things seem to be going smoothly, Cotter said, with no visible drop-off in traffic and a larger, better-organized space.

“We were surprised, the very first day we opened our resource room was full,” Cotter said. “We’re right across from motor vehicles and we’re right across from where people had to drop off their ballots. We are close to them so there’s a lot of exposure for us, from people who probably did not know about us before.”

Cubicles in the computer resource room offer job seekers a bit more privacy than the old location, which was on Pikes Peak Avenue east of Memorial Park, while employees at a central desk can see people having problems and offer help. There are also about 10 more computers to meet demand in the often-crowded resource room. The computer labs, where people can learn how to use word processors and spreadsheets or take skills tests, offer the same advantages, with several rooms around a central desk.

“It’s much better laid out,” said training technician Mike Baloff. “It’s very functional.”

The entire 36,000-square-foot space, on the first floor of the Citizens Service Center, is about 3,000 square feet bigger than the old location and is adjacent to the cafeteria and several large meeting rooms where, for instance, a representative from the state’s unemployment insurance program answers questions every Tuesday. Cotter said the workforce center is also hoping that proximity will lead to collaboration on projects and programs between the different agencies in the service center.

The new location received generally positive reviews from job seekers, although access was a common concern.

“The old location was a better location because it was central,” said Sara Glab. “This is a little further north.”

Getting to the Citizens Service Center is a challenge, agreed Alisha Lacour, but otherwise, putting so many public services together makes a lot of sense.

“You can do everything you need to do,” Lacour said. “I think it’s more convenient for people.”

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