New WIB director could mean stability

December 20, 2001|By LAURA MITCHELL, Staff Writer

In a move to bring stability after months of disarray, the Imperial County Workforce Investment Board hired Efrain Silva as its executive director.

The board was criticized last month when representatives from agencies competing for a welfare-to-work bid told the county Board of Supervisors they did not believe the evaluation process was fair. The supervisors did not approve the bid and suggested the WIB redo the process to avoid an appearance of conflict.

The board is made up of 29 public and private sector members, with a majority in the private sector.

The board serves a majority of people in welfare-to-work programs, mainly low-income and working poor, board analyst Ernie Morlett said.

The board helps people who do not meet the federal standard of living wage by offering training services so they can make more money, Morlett said. The board also offers child care and transportation services.

The board recently worked with other agencies to hire 600 Imperial Valley residents for the new Brawley Beef plant.


Silva is an excellent choice, county Office of Employment Training Director Sam Couchman said. Couchman oversees the board and is a board member. Silva worked as an assistant director for Couchman at the OET several years ago.

Silva, 43, also worked as a project director with the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program and with the El Centro Planning Department.

He served as an El Centro Elementary School District trustee and taught citizenship classes at Imperial Valley College. He was the president of the Mexican-American Political Association in Imperial County.

Silva said his first priority is to bring stability to the board. One of the board's biggest challenges is the county's high unemployment rate.

"One of the worst things we can do is train an individual for a job and then not have that job available," Silva said.

He said the board can provide enticements to bring business to the area through customized training, tax credits and a subsidized work force.

Silva was born in Mexicali and moved to the Valley when he was 14. He did not speak any English when he came to the U.S., which, he says, makes him sensitive to the needs of people who are trying to get work but speak little English.

Silva lives in El Centro with his wife Karla. They have five children.

He replaces former director Helen Lopez, who resigned in October.

>> Staff Writer Laura Mitchell can be reached at 337-3452 or

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