County Executive Winfield M. Kelly Jr., took some new employment plans to the Capital Centre last week and told 150 members of the Prince George's County business community "not to underestimate our ability to help you increase your profits."
Continuing the push for "new quality in the county, Kelly picked up the tab for lunch and with other county, state and federal officials explained tax credits, on-the-job training rebates, tool and time reimbursements and other programs streamlined to encourage employers to hire the county's welfare recipients and unemployed residents.
"We have something to offer you - we have some bread and a commitment from the Labor Department," said Donald Weinberg, personnel officer for the county. "These substantial incentives from us will help you to use us as a conduit for a better-trained work force.
"The county can finance tools and classroom training, can share the cost of non-productive time needed by employees for training and can show you how to take a bottom line on your tax deduction by hiring the Prince George's County unemployed."
And it was obvious that the business community could offer something in return. "There are 2,000 people signed up for jobs in this county," said Kelly, "but only 425 placed. We place many in public service jobs, but now we want to get them into private sector. We want to move the long-term unemployed into skilled, paying jobs through intensive private sector development."
Acronym after acronym was bandied about as various federal and county development programs were explained. As the afternoon wore on the intricacies and incentives in CETA, SPEDY, OJT, FUTA, STIP (Comprehensive Employment Training Act, Summer Program for Economically Disadvantaged Youth, On-the-Job Training, Federal Employment Tax Act and the Skill Training Improvement Program) were digested by those in the audience with the forbearance to listen and the positions to fill.
"We know we have fantastic programs here," said Robert Polley of the county's Economic Development Committee. "We just have to educate everyone."
County officials are enthusiastic about the outcome of the luncheon. Several area businessmen have shown interest in the new hiring and training programs, according to Janet Bass, information officer in the personnel department.
Representatives from Suburban Trust, Dart Drug, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing and Add-A-Room Construction expressed a need for management trainees and clerks, computer programmers, "even a microbiologist," said Bass. "I'm sure there's someone out there now, pounding the pavements, looking for a job like that."
John Lantsky of Control Data Institute said, his firm is waiting for approval of a federal grant to train 30 eligible Prince George's residents for computer programming. "I think we can help each other out," said Lantsky.
Council chairman William B. Amonett, a homebuilder in Charles County, said the tax credits for employers who hire more workers ahould appeal to many in the county business community. "When you start taking money off the bottom line, this becomes very important," Amonett siad. "A businessman would need to increase profits four or five times just to make that tax difference. And the skilled Labor these programs could produce would help many subcontractors in the homebuilding industry.
"It's obvious that employment must be taken up in the private sector. And the county is now in a position to make a few more bucks for all of us businessmen in Prince George's."