EPA awards $200,000 to Springfield for job training

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A $200,000 grant to The Missouri Job Center will provide job opportunities in the city’s northwest quadrant. The grant funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 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.

Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training celebrate graduation. Springfield has received a $200,000 grant to create such a program.

Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training students celebrate graduation. Springfield has received a $200,000 grant to create such a “green” jobs training 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, earning meaningful hourly wages.

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,” says 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.

  • Additional support was provided by:
  • Zone 1 City Councilwoman Phyllis FergusonCity of Springfield Planning Department staff Olivia Hough,
  • Sarah Kerner, Randall Whitman and Alyssa Ahner
  • City of Springfield Environmental Services DepartmentNeighborhood Advisory Council
  • The Drew Lewis Foundation/Sunbelt Environmental Services, Inc.
  • Keystone Building and DesignEuticals
  • Vocational RehabiliationK-State TAB program helped us review our proposal
  • OACAC Head StartCommunity Partnership of the Ozarks
  • Springfield Chamber of Commerce/Department of Natural Resources
  • Preferred Family Healthcare

Operated by the City of Springfield’s Department of Workforce Development, the Missouri Job Center is located at 2900 East Sunshine Street and serves Greene and six other surrounding Ozarks counties: Christian, Dallas, Polk, Stone, Taney and Webster.

Since EPA launched the EWDJT grant program in 1998, more than 256 grants have been awarded exceeding a total of $54 million. Approximately 14,700 individuals have completed training, and of those, more than 10,600 individuals have been placed in full-time employment with an average starting hourly wage of $14.34. This equates to a cumulative job placement rate of nearly 72 percent of graduates.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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