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For some of America's unemployed workers, entrepreneurship is the path to reemployment.   In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, ETA is posting entrepreneurship-related content in this space all week.  Today’s feature highlights a partnership between the workforce system and the Maine Small Buisiness Development Centers, who together provide UI claimants with self-employment services.


The Maine Enterprise Option (MEO) is the self-employment focus of the Maine Department of Labor. The Maine Enterprise Option is managed by the state’s 21 One-Stop Career Centers to help those who have a specific business idea and are profiled to exhaust their unemployment benefits. Wagner-Peyser Act funds provide for counseling staff who first meet with the unemployed. Funding through Maine‘s supplemental budget provided funding for capacity building for the Maine Employment Opportunity initiative through various organizations involved in making the training possible. Career Center staff members have found the initiative to be very case intensive.


The Small Business Development Centers network based at the Southern University of Maine operates out of 31 different offices throughout Maine to provide business counseling, training, and information. They are a key partner for delivering training, counseling and mentoring services as a partner to the One-Stop Career Centers across the state. Their web site MaineWorks allows individuals to see training available and registration on line with the entity offering the training. This has been a great service to the state.


MEO services include an eligibility assessment, orientation, application process, training, technical assistance, and business plan development.


Summary of Key Benefits and Results: In the state of Maine the State Department of Labor, the Small Business Development Center, and the Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community have been partnering for several years to ensure that the Maine Enterprise Option (MEO) continues. They developed an Entrepreneurial Working Group to break down the barriers between groups who were all focused on enhancing the economy of Maine. These three groups have partnered to put in place an effective program that the twenty-one One-Stop Career Centers can use to connect those interested in self employment (over 3,000 since its inception) with the appropriate agency. The Small Business Development Centers work from twenty-five locations across the state to counsel and mentor those desiring their assistance. They also offer on line courses, as well as various courses at the universities and in their centers. The Women‘s Centers in 16 locations across the state allow for development of assets through personal savings or family development accounts that are matched to help women start businesses. Trainers are provided as needed.


Since 1995 MDOL identified over 93,500 eligible UI claimants.  A total of 4,026 have applied for the program, and 2,350 were accepted.


Lessons Learned: A state leadership team in the DOL, in the Small Business Development Centers, and through the Maine Centers for Women, Work and Community that provided leadership, advocacy and consistency for the Maine Employment Option (MEO) self employment initiative. State level leadership over a period of 15 years has generated enthusiasm among the program deliverers for continuing the work and empowering individuals to create businesses.


Personal relationships between the intake staff at the career centers and the small business counseling staff seemed essential for effective connection of the unemployed workers to the self-employment options. They have taken an approach within the MEO partnerships that no one can do it all but if partners do what they do best; the client‘s need‘s can be met successfully.  One-Stop Career Centers work to not replicate the role of the certified business counselors and the SBDC. They work to provide clients information so that there if No Wrong Door for clients by being informed of services available by partner organizations.

Through the MEO initiative, the state trained One-Stop Career Center staff to think entrepreneurially, and encouraged each center to designate one person as the entrepreneurship program leader to counsel with individuals, sign them up for the initiative and to send them to the small business counselors as needed. The MEO is just another tool the One Stop counselor uses to meet the needs of the clients. Continuing communication allowed staff to learn from one another and allowed the state leadership to understand the staff training needs that should be addressed as the initiative evolved.


The One-Stop Career Center, SBDCs, and other organizations work together to schedule training sessions for technical training and entrepreneurial preparation training so that there were some complete weeks allowed for individuals to focus on developing their business plan. Clients indicate that this scheduling was very helpful to them.


This post is excerpted from ETA Occasional Paper 2009-22, “Think Entrepreneurs: A Call to Action.” 


Learn more about the Maine MEO program here  

Learn more about SBDCs here

Learn more about the Unemployment Insurance Self Employment Assistance program here

This past summer, ETA announced the OJT web-based toolkit to help state and local workforce professionals expand and strengthen their On-the-Job Training (OJT) strategies. The OJT Toolkit is an online suite of resources that provides state workforce agencies and local OJT providers templates and examples that are customizable to meet their needs.  Further, these OJT Toolkit documents allow local providers to quickly and efficiently assess and implement OJT in their area.

Below is what your peers have to say about the toolkit...

Rebecca Ducsik, Contract Specialist for NYS Dept of Labor at Broome Workforce NY:

"The OJT Toolkit has been an extremely valuable resource here at Broome Workforce; we have used the sample fliers for OJT to help promote the program our local employers using an eblast.  We have received over 25 OJT inquiries in two days as a result! 

In addition, the OJT QSAP and checklist have provided us the opportunity to self-evaluate our OJT program and make necessary changes and updates in an efficient and timely manner.  As a Workforce area that has incorporated the OJT into their strategy for several years, it is very helpful to review other areas’ programs and policies to help generate ideas for how we can run our program most effectively.  It is obvious that a huge amount of work was put into developing the toolkit and we will continue to utilize the available resources. "

From Teri Geisenhof, Supervising Labor Services Representative for NYS Dept of Labor at Broome Workforce NY:

"I found that the WorkforceOne OJT Toolkit was an invaluable source of information in helping me to develop the PowerPoint presentation for our customers. I also used the Toolkit to develop a handout (also attached). With the help of the Toolkit I was able to quickly develop the products I needed in order to best serve our customers."

If you're attending the Road to Recovery: Strategies for ReEmployment Conference next week in DC, make sure to join the OJT Action Clinic Workshop to be held on December 15th from 2:30-4:30!

And be sure to visit the OJT table at the Showcase of Promising Practices in ReEmployment Services, in the Atrium outside the Regency Ballroom during conference breaks.

Department of Labor Commissioner Glenn Marshall announced that residents currently using employment services offered at the state’s CTWorks Career Centers will have the opportunity to take on-line courses at no charge, thanks to a partnership between the Connecticut Department of Labor and the Eastern CT Workforce Investment Board.

Click here

New social media tool for businesses introduced in MN

Having a highly skilled workforce contributing to the community is the goal of the Washington County WorkForce Investment Board (WIB) in Minnesota, and in 2011 that means using social media for customer communication and marketing.

The WIB held a Social Media Forum last month at the Oakdale Discovery Center, inviting local business people to learn how to use social media to promote their businesses and serve customers.

The program was sponsored by CorTrust Bank, the Woodbury Chamber of Commerce, the Forest Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, the Woodbury Community Foundation, the city of Woodbury Yellow Ribbon Network, The Entrepreneur's Source, the Minnesota WorkForce Center and Washington County.

Presenters Lief Larson of Workface and Tyler Olson of SMCPros could show as well as tell the participants how interactive websites and social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter are used to find and serve customers.

Larson provided a broad overview of how today's consumer finds and buys products and services. In 2012, a majority of consumers in the United States will have access to the Internet, and it will also influence their "offline" behavior, Larson said. Those aged 20 or younger receive half their information from online sources.

At the same time, when Internet users move "online," they are expecting more from their Internet experience than simply reading a page of text on a computer. Consumers are changing the way they find and use information, and that affects almost every aspect of people's lives, including how businesses do business, Larson said.

Businesses must think in terms of providing information for all product users, Larson said, not just their customers. A message might start with a specific consumer, but it soon spreads to all the people they know and it is these "users" that business should be concerned about, as messages the businesses send influence how users think about their businesses. With the right message, these users will find the information and service that they need, and become customers, Larson added.

Since people do consumer research online, doing business will require a human response in the online space, Larson said. He showed examples of websites that provide traditional information, plus an opportunity for online "chats" with customer service people who promptly respond to consumer questions.

Larson said research shows that consumers expect to have a response to a question within minutes to keep them engaged and quick reaction time is necessary to turn an interested consumer into a customer.

Larson stressed that businesses must use a number of social media tools to keep customers engaged. Olson walked the group through a number of social media platforms, explaining their uses, and value to businesses. Olson also noted that people are using mobile devices to access the Internet, and to be aware of that when creating messages for the Internet.

Both Larson and Olson noted several times that it is crucial that business people have a goal for their social media use, that business people must know what they wish to accomplish, and so will know when the programs are working for them.



By Peggy Severson, Business Development Representative, Assessment and Training, Division of Workforce, Colorado Office of Economic Development

Denver Office of Economic Development/Workforce Development (WD) and the Denver Public Library (DPL) entered into a multi-pronged partnership in July 2009 to expand employment and training services to business and to job-seeking library customers.  In an effort to meet the challenges of the recent economic downturn, the reduction of City government and the ever-growing demand for services by the public, WD’s collaboration with DPL provides additional computer technology lab space and increased assessment and training services to unemployed and dislocated workers.

Through Assessment and Training, a site license was set up at DPL to provide pre-test and practice lessons for customers preparing for the CareerReady Colorado Certification test utilizing KeyTrain.  KeyTrain’s online training also offers 200 soft skills lessons that are quantifiable.  WD has staff on site during the week to offer these services.  DPL staff has been trained in order to offer these services evenings and weekends.  WD also provides referrals to our WD customers for technical training offered throughu DPL but not offered in the workforce system.

WD recently partnered with DPL to provide marketing outreach and distribution of the Microsoft Elevate America program.  The orientations were held at the DPL main branch to increase capacity and extend services beyond the hours available in the Workforce Centers.  WD and library staff partnered to coordinate scheduling of sessions, customer registration, and facilitating orientations.  We successfully met our goals in a limited timeframe due to this partnership.

On November 30, The Hamilton Project hosted a forum and released two new policy proposals that provide evidence-based, cost-effective approaches to worker training—both of which are designed to increase earnings and employment prospects.

1.      Raising Job Quality and Skills for American Workers: Creating More-Effective Education and Workforce Development Systems in the States,” by Harry J. Holzer of Georgetown University, builds on the success of sectoral training programs for disadvantaged workers to create a competitive grant system. This system will give states funding for creating partnerships between training providers and employers or industry groups. The grants would fund a workforce and education system that provides students and training participants with the skills that employers demand by directly linking their education and training with the labor market.

2.      Policies to Reduce High-Tenured Displaced Workers’ Earnings Losses through Retraining,” by Louis S. Jacobson of New Horizons Economic Research, Robert J. LaLonde of the University of Chicago, and Daniel G. Sullivan of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, focuses on the problem of retraining displaced workers who have experienced significant earnings losses due to lower wages after reemployment. The paper proposes the establishment of a Displaced Worker Training (DWT) program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor to provide sizeable grants for longer-term training and utilizes honest brokers to assess and counsel grantees to increase the returns to the DWT program.

The forum featured two roundtable discussions  on the papers featuring Harry J. Holzer; Rhandi Berth, Vice President, Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership; Maureen Conway, Director, Economic Opportunities, The Aspen Institute; Steven VanAusdle, President, Walla Walla Community College; Louis S. Jacobson; Daniel Marschall, Legislative and Policy Specialist for Workforce Issues, AFL-CIO; and Michael Greenstone, Director of the Hamilton Project.  United States Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was on hand to provide remarks.  Finally, the forum was closed with a discussion featuring Eric A. Spiegel, President and CEO of the Siemens Corporation.


More information about the forum can be found at

State Officials Launch New Online Job Search Tool

In late November, Acting New Jersey Governor Kim Guadagno and Labor Commissioner Hal Wirths launched a new job-search engine at the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s to help workers find jobs. is part of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s comprehensive emphasis on job assistance. The free website, which was created earlier this year to guide job-seekers and employers through the maze of state and federal services, now offers a unique tool to help people find new careers.

Called OnRamp, the new job-search engine allows job-seekers to go online to quickly upload a resume or create a customized resume, even for industries where resumes were traditionally not used. Visitors to can use OnRamp to have their skills showcased to thousands of employers and access job opportunities listed on 2,400 websites with one search.

Through OnRamp, New Jersey job-seekers may:

  • Receive e-mail alerts on job matches, and customize how those alerts are received when employers post new jobs matching a job-seekers skills and experience
  • Move their search beyond job titles by having the search engine list skills and knowledge outside a work history, such as experiences from volunteer work
  • Learn how to improve the chances of being noticed by employers by following on-screen guidelines on improving a resume and a job search’s OnRamp tool is an interactive system that permits job-seekers to regularly update their resume and job searches. The system allows customers to create a profile for employers to review, and it allows them to create multiple job searches – customizing each one by geography, salary, industry or keywords that will attract prospective employers.

The Department will further enhance the system in the coming weeks to allow New Jersey’s employers to have an equally robust search-engine in which to upload their talent needs. New Jersey has 34 One-Stop Career Centers throughout the state to assist people looking for work with a wide variety of services ranging from training to public assistance.

To date, approximately 30,000 people have registered on the job-search engine to search for employment and nearly 24,000 of them have loaded a resume. Through an anonymous customer survey conducted through the system, nearly 200 users said they received an interview for system generated jobs; approximately 100 respondents said they have been offered jobs through OnRamp.




Strategies for ReEmployment

December 14-15, 2010  Washington, D.C.

The Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration is pleased to invite you to join us for two days of engaging workshops, lively discussions, informative action clinics and collegial networking events focused on getting America back to work.

Our nation's reemployment system is more important than ever. Whether we are serving workers facing a lay-off, the recently unemployed, the long-term unemployed, or employers ready to hire, our workforce system services are in high demand. The challenges we face are significant, but together we can help workers find good jobs today, and prepare for
the jobs of the future.

Representatives from:
  • Rapid Response
  • Unemployment Insurance Programs
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance Program
  • National Emergency Grants
  • State Workforce Agencies
  • Workforce Investment Boards
  • One Stop Career Centers
  • Registered Apprenticeship Programs
  • Employers
  • Organized Labor & Labor Management Organizations
  • Education And Training Institutions
  • Economic Development Organizations
  • Social Service Agencies and Community Partners
  • National And Community Philanthropic Organizations
  • Federal Departments and Agencies
  • Reemployment And Job Creation Thought Leaders
  • And Many More!

For some of America's unemployed workers, entrepreneurship is the path to reemployment.   In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, ETA is posting entrepreneurship-related content in this space all week.  Today’s feature is an ETA demonstration project called Project GATE.  Community Colleges are a growing resource for entrepreneurship education. Below is more information, prepared by the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE).

Community colleges view entrepreneurship from a broad, regionally-focused perspective. Depending on the economy, demand from the community, funding assistance available and of course, executive leadership, it can begin and flourish in a number of ways. Below are the three main areas where our members are actively involved in creating new models and improving current ones.


ACADEMIC: Traditional and cross campus curriculum
AA & AS degree programs are the norm. These include traditional business degrees as well as the newer entrepreneurship specific degrees.  They can also include 1 or 2-year programs that combine a program specific element with a heavy percentage (25-50%) of credit hours focused on business/entrepreneurship.
The approach often called ‘cross campus curriculum’ or ‘entrepreneurship across the campus’ is being applied to every field of study suitable for startup, from Auto Repair, Bookkeeping and Culinary to HVAC, Hospitality and Welding and dozens more.

Here’s an article from a paper in the greater Chicago region that preceded NACCE's 7th conference focused on cross-campus curriculum

Can entrepreneurism be taught?

Here’s an article based on a presentation done by NACCE members at Cayuga Community College, (NY) on cross campus curriculum and its connection with experiential learning. It was given at the League of Innovation along with NACCE’s Matt Montoya.

Learning by Doing  March 29, 2010

NON-CREDIT: Stand-alone classes, workshops, seminar series and accelerated courses
Isolated single course, seminars, workshops and accelerated programs such as FastTrac, NxLeveL and CoreFour dominate. In some cases schools have also allowed students taking such courses to later be credited for them.   Non-Credit is most often strongest where the economy has been hit the hardest by sudden shifts such as large layoffs.  It’s also tightly connected with the workforce development arm of the college and also fills a supportive role in educating current business owners with gap-filling education (Learning QuickBooks, social media etc.). Some schools that have good, close-by relationship with their SBDCs rely on them for much of their non-credit offerings.

COMMUNITY COLLABORATION: Partnering with community business resources (public & private)
Besides the academic and non-credit areas, our colleges are actively partnering with their local economic development organizations, universities and private business community to provide the kind of infrastructure to support the growing early-stage microbusiness community that lead to strong second-stages (“Gazelles”).

Being heavily invested in community business incubators and other broad economic development that support microbusiness development efforts is quite common.

Entrepreneurship Education Drives Economic Development and lorain

IRS Ruling Allows Lorain County CC Foundation to Assist Entrepreneurs Through Unique Innovation Fund and lorain

For some of America's unemployed workers, entrepreneurship is the path to reemployment.   In celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week, ETA is posting entrepreneurship-related content in this space all week.  Today’s feature is an ETA demonstration project called Project GATE.


Many workforce system customers have the motivation and skills to develop a small business on their own, but they may lack business experience or more importantly the access to financing.  Project GATE (Growing America Through Entrepreneurship) was devised to help connect such customers to training and financial support to help them realize their entrepreneurial dreams. 


Project GATE was initiated in 2003 to help emerging entrepreneurs create, sustain, and/or expand their existing small business.  To help emerging entrepreneurs, Project GATE teamed Employment and Training Administration (ETA) training and assistance programs with economic development entities such as local small business development centers, women’s business development centers, local chambers of commerce, and entrepreneurial service providers, and small business loan providers.   To learn more about round one of Project GATE, see the final report here.

Because of the success of the original Project GATE, ETA awarded in June 2008 four new Project GATE II grants for the extension of the Project GATE model to dislocated workers.  Minnesota and Virginia received grants to provide Project GATE services to dislocated workers over the age of 45.  North Carolina and Alabama received grants to provide Project GATE services to dislocated workers in rural areas.   At this time, the grantees have begun implementation of their new GATE II projects and are enrolling participants.


These projects provide participants with information, classroom training, technical assistance, and counseling so they can establish and sustain a new business.  They work in close partnership with partners such as Small Business Development Centers, community colleges, and other service delivery organizations to connect customers to the entrepreneurship support services they need.


Would you like to learn more about how Project GATE states are helping workforce system customers realize their entrepreneurship dreams?  Check out some of these resources below.


North Carolina Project GATE website


Presentation on Virginia’s Project GATE (November, 2009)  


Presentation on Minnesota’s Project GATE (September, 2010)


We want to hear from you!  What are you doing to support budding entrepreneurs in your community?

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