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IVROP receives state grant to train people for jobs at Brawley beef plant

March 03, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — As the beef-processing plant in this city moves toward an October opening, the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program has been awarded a $689,000 grant to train people to work at the facility.

The grant awarded by the state Employment Development Department will fund the start of Project Hope, an effort to ready at least 200 local people for jobs at the beef plant.

IVROP Superintendent Mary Camacho said she received word Tuesday that the grant has been awarded.

The funding will pay for a full-time coordinator to run the training project.

The grant will allow IVROP to offer training to those in the county's CalWorks program, to former foster care youths ages 18 to 21, non-custodial parents and the working poor — those who are below poverty levels despite working.

Specific information on what is considered below poverty level was unavailable. Camacho said it is based on an individual's annual wages and number of dependents.


Camacho said those who qualify for the program will receive training in employability skills, safety and hygiene and can be placed in an English immersion program.

She added IVROP will contract beef plant owner B.P. Ventures so beef industry specialists can provide training in the specific work that would be required at the plant.

Camacho said in April people can start submitting applications to take part in the training program.

Applications can be picked up at one-stop centers in local EDD offices in El Centro, Calexico and Brawley, the county Office of Employment Training and Imperial Valley College.

Those with questions about the program can call Monica Minjarez, a clerk with the IVROP, at 312-6434. Camacho said people are asked to hold off making such calls until April.

Camacho said the training program is a partnership between several local agencies including IVROP, county Social Services, the county Office of Employment Training, the EDD, Brawley, Development Design and Engineering in El Centro and B.P. Ventures.

Tom DuBose, a partner with Development Design, who served as the county's liaison in the beef plant project, said the goal is to pre-train as many people as possible to work at the plant.

"The goal is to get them ready to work once the beef plant opens," he said.

The grant will allow Project Hope to continue through June of 2002, and DuBose said, if it is possible to train more people that will be pursued.

Officials with B.P. Ventures have said the plant will employ 600 people from the outset and, if the plant is successful, that number could increase to 1,200 in coming years.

Officials have said the jobs will be full time, but information on salary ranges was unavailable Friday.

Bill Brandt, a partner in B.P. Ventures, said Saturday he was pleased to hear the grant has been awarded to train people to work at the beef plant.

He said it is a positive move to have people pre-trained and ready when the plant starts operations in October.

B.P. Ventures officials have said the construction of the beef plant is on schedule and the facility must be ready to open in October because that is when the first shipment of cattle to be processed will arrive.

The beef plant is being built on 100 acres of land recently annexed into the city of Brawley. The facility is located near Shank Road in the eastern section of Brawley.

County officials have said the plant can play a key role in rebuilding the cattle industry and improving the agricultural economy in the Imperial Valley.

They also have said with more people working that will mean more money flowing through the Valley to area businesses.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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