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Workforce Innovation Submitted By:
Yuma Private Industry Council, Inc

SMART Training

Innovation photo or program logo

Community Challenge/Problem

From 2008 to 2010, at least 37 businesses in Yuma County have closed their doors or had significant layoffs due to the recession. Business owners did not have experience in conducting layoffs, and many were unaware of the services available through YPIC (part of the Arizona Workforce Connection) to help them to avoid closure or assist their employees if closure was unavoidable. An education and outreach plan was needed to make business owners aware of services and enroll them in programs to help stop layoffs and closures.

Board Solution/Innovation

In June 2009, the Yuma Private Industry Council, Inc., and the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce introduced a joint collaborative training at the “Good Morning Yuma” gathering. The SMART Training (Strategies Mandatory at Recessionary Times) is a unique approach designed to help small business make effective financial decisions to better align business needs during this economic downturn. SMART services are built around giving solid unbiased advice tailored to individual situations. This venture utilizes American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Stimulus monies to ensure that Yuma County business are operating efficiently and that individual business decisions fit into overall business strategies.

SMART training is a two part training program. The first is a 12 point program which serves as a primer for the implementation of a business plan designed to manage a small business during the current recession. The second part, “How to Manage a layoff” is structured to ensure that layoffs are administered without prejudice and are equitable to all affected employees. Additionally, it also ensures that disruption to employees and to business functions is minimized. The training is normally provided in a two-part module, however, each module can be held independent of the other. Business owners decide which they feel is most beneficial for their current needs.

Outcomes & Results

The feedback from the business community has been very positive. Over 50 businesses participated in SMART training and are now better equipped to handle layoffs if they occur. In some cases, businesses made changes based on SMART training recommendations that helped them avoid closing their doors. At the same time, YPIC has been able to provide rapid response sessions and introduce its services to affected employees. Employees can start preparing for job search early in the process, sometimes even before their last day of employment. In some situations, YPIC has been able to match the skills and place affected employees in positions that are available with other businesses, or enroll workers in training to gain the necessary skills required by the labor market in demand. This has successful partnership between Arizona Workforce Connection and the Yuma County Chamber of Commerce is generating positive impact with workers and with businesses in our region.

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