Mesquite Works moving forward despite grant rejection

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In a meeting of the Mesquite Works (MW) Board on June 15, it was unanimously decided by those in attendance that the dream of the Mesquite Works program would find a way to stay alive and flourish to benefit both the businesses and the community in Mesquite.

“We believe we’ll be able to do it with volunteers,” stated Brandy Jenkins, volunteer with MW and Executive Assistant with Mesquite Regional Business. “We have a plan of action we have been working on,” she said of herself and Mardee Harper, another volunteer with the Mesquite Works Program.

“We kind of figured towards the end of the process that we weren’t going to get the grant,” said Chairman Burton Weast. “The advantage to [being denied the grant] is that we can skip the red tape and can actually work directly with the employers. The disadvantage is that we don’t have the two or three full time staff members.”

“We need to seek more state money,” said Kim Woolsey with Primex Plastics of representatives that work with state lawmakers. “They are always at the Chamber luncheons and are very accessible.” Several people in attendance agreed that more needed to be done to get the state and local governments involved in these types of developments to advocate for further funding.

Dave Bennett with Fidelity National Title spoke up about what MW represents to Mesquite and how unique the board is. “I have been involved with the Chamber of Commerce off and on and of course the City Council for 12 years and I just have to say that I have never seen a forum like this before. There has never been something like this where key businesses come together.” He continued, “I find it just amazing when I look at this room and see how broad-based it is. The different industries that are represented here. There has never been anything like this, with this focus in Mesquite. Regardless of the grant at this point, this group should stay together, if nothing else, then to just use it as a forum to work things out for the benefit of the community. Figure out how to do it, how to make it work, and go back in a year or two and prove to them that we deserve the grant.”

“I am in 100 percent agreement with Dave,” said Councilman Rich Green, who serves as the board’s Treasurer. “We know that if we can keep our group all together, the benefits are that we can position ourselves at a larger grant down the road.”

Green eventually made the motion that MW “continue to thrive,” with a second sponsored by Wendy Kinney, general manager of Do It Best Corp. All members in attendance agreed and the motion passed.

With the decision being final to move forward, it was announced that David Bennett and Fidelity National Title arranged for MW to acquire all of their old office furniture, keeping that expense out of the numbers for basic setup costs. For now, it is being stored in a donated space until a finalized office space can be determined. The board has viewed several areas of town, but the cost of renting most of them is well outside of any shoestring budget they assume they will be on.

In regards to services the volunteer-based staff would be able to provide, the projection shows everything from basic math skills to an English as a second language program sponsored by the Eureka Community Initiative. The commitment was given to MW prior to their grant application and would apply to the 2016-2017 fiscal year according to their RFP submitted to Workforce Connections in Las Vegas. It goes on to say that “other community volunteers have offered to teach classes in financial literacy, interviewing and resume writing, and dressing for success.”

Such basic skills are noted as being hard to find in the workforce Mesquite has to offer, as has been stated at the most recent job fair held in cooperation between MW and Mesquite Regional Business. Those skills could be the deciding point of whether or not a person would be hirable in even an entry level position.

Basic costs for MW to succeed include liability insurance, rent, utilities and ongoing supplies that are needed in most office settings. Bennett also noted that there will undoubtedly need to be at least one part-time staff member for the office.

To raise the money for their needed budget, an amount that will be estimated this week, suggestions of employer sponsorships and more were brought to the table. If each business at the table put some money towards the cause, most of their costs would be covered. Other donations from the community in the way of money or time would assist even more with offsetting expenses.

While there are other grants that Weast, Jenkins and Harper will apply for, the group called for the community’s help in ensuring that Mesquite can have an adequate program to train anyone for the jobs that sit open without qualified workers. Anyone wishing to contribute to the MW program, either through volunteering or through a tax deductible contribution, can contact Brandy Jenkins at 702-345-3075 or emailing bcarnahan@mrbnv.org.

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