PLATTSBURGH — E.J. Siwek is the new executive director of the North Country Workforce Investment Board.
The Hague resident was chosen after several interviews with a search committee and then the board’s executive committee during a nearly four-month period.
“All the people on those (committees are very dedicated and committed right from day one,” he said.
Siwek comes on board as the Workforce Investment Board has lost Finance Director Kelly Otis and Director of Program Services Mary Beth McKee. Victims of ongoing budget cuts, their last day was June 29.
The Workforce Investment Board has seen its funding cut 30 percent during the last three years, Siwek said, including another 8 percent in the fiscal year that ended June 30.
“There’s a lot of critical turnover right now. I’ve had to jump in with both feet, there’s no doubt about it,” he said.
He is thankful Executive Administrator Angela Bucci and Director of Special Programs Michele Armani will stay on and assume some additional responsibilities.
The top priority moving forward is to find funding for the Community Computer and Employment Resource Center located in the Plattsburgh Public Library. The most recent grant request, which would fund the center through the upcoming fiscal year, was denied.
The center served 5,500 people last year. Its function includes job-search workshops and services and a variety of training, classes and workshops.
“It’s a vital program that we need to save,” Siwek said. “It is so critical for those looking for a new job or a better job.”
One potential option would be to secure private funding, he said. That could even involve securing naming rights to the center.
Siwek initially worked for non-profits such as the March of Dimes and Save the Children.
He was later at the Juran Institute, founded by Dr. Joseph Juran. Juran’s ground-breaking work in the field of quality management is the basis of many programs in place today.
Next came time at Excel Partnership, a leading provider of business and management improvement systems and training. He said that at one time, he provided oversight of 30 to 40 percent of the company’s budget.
Siwek founded FLASHpoint Technologies in 1999. The company provides meeting and event technology training as well as consulting services that include business management, business coaching and application testing.
He later joined the Convention Industry Council’s APEX Initiative. Siwek helped develop a standard for data transmission for hotels, convention centers and meeting professionals that is being encoded on that industry’s software.
In all, he has 30 years experience in business management, business re-engineering, budget management and public speaking. Skills that will apply to his new job include grant writing, fundraising and creation of partnerships.
“I think that’s a good skill set to apply to what’s going on here and throughout the country,” Siwek said.
The Workforce Investment Board covers Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Hamilton counties. Siwek has already met with legislators from all four counties, who have to sign off on what the Workforce Investment Board does at the highest level.
“Thankfully, we have a very strong relationship with each county,” Siwek said.
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