With the recovery and rebuilding process fully underway, Governor Chris Christie today toured a restoration project in the storm-impacted community of Bradley Beach where workers hired through a National Emergency Grant (NEG) are on the job repairing the town's beachfront area. Bradley Beach is one of dozens of communities in 11 New Jersey counties that have put 428 unemployed people to work on storm clean-up using the $15.6 million grant obtained by the Christie Administration in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Another 650 people are slated to be brought in up to five other counties.
Sandy was the worst storm to strike New Jersey in 100 years. It damaged or destroyed 346,000 homes, knocked out power to nearly 7 million people and 1,000 schools, and caused the evacuation or displacement of 116,000 New Jerseyans - 41,000 of whom are still displaced from their homes. The storm also cost the state over 8,000 jobs in November, making the Governor's job and recovery initiatives essential to getting people back to work.
"New Jersey is rebuilding from Sandy with pride and determination," said Governor Christie. "With the NEG grant and the $26 million being released through three programs we have initiated -- Recovery4Jersey, Skills4Jersey and Opportunity4Jersey -- we are helping Sandy-impacted businesses and workers, as well as investing in our future economic growth. New Jersey, its citizens, communities and businesses are resilient and I assure you that we will leave no stone unturned in bringing the Garden State back better than ever."
Governor Christie said other recovery initiatives also are in full swing, noting that nearly 200 Garden State employers have already applied for grants under the $26 million economic recovery package he launched four weeks ago.
Under Skills4Jersey, $11 million in training grants is being made available to help New Jersey employers upgrade the occupational, literacy and safety skills of their current employees and train new workers for purposes of retaining highly skilled and high wage jobs in the state.
Recovery4Jersey is a two part program involving the initial release of $4 million to encourage businesses to train existing employees and hire new workers in the recovery effort. For example, utility companies are eligible for grants to hire staff to improve their services; planning firms working on infrastructure repairs may bring on engineers and recovering Mom & Pop shops may train employees on new equipment purchased to replace operations damaged by the storm. Phase II of Recovery4Jersey, to be launched next month, will release another $7 million.
Under Opportunity4Jersey, $4 million is being awarded to consortiums of training organizations and community colleges with direct ties to New Jersey employers to address a "skills gap" employers identified in New Jersey even before Sandy hit.
"We have businesses telling us they have job openings, but can't find workers with the necessary skills to fill them. We can help by involving employers with job openings in the training process. We were successful with this in a pilot program last year," said Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths.
Governor Christie also announced that $500,000 will be made available today to create two new Talent Networks: a Sandy Recovery Talent Network and a Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Talent Network. The plan capitalizes on the success of the State's six existing Talent Networks, previously established around industry clusters that employ more than half of New Jersey's workers and pay more than two-thirds of wages paid in the state.
The Networks provide a conduit for employers to identify the exact needs and challenges in the business community, especially in terms of employing new workers. The Sandy Recovery Network will allow employers to report the hurdles, needs and demands they face in trying to rebuild and hire new workers. The Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Talent Network will represent a key industry cluster in New Jersey that, before the storm, accounted for about 24 percent of all our private sector workers and paid more than $20 billion in annual wages.
For additional information on:
Skills4Jersey go to:
Recovery4Jersey go to:
Opportunity4Jersey go to:
The national emergency grant go to: