State will step up efforts to reduce unemployment in Orleans

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 3 April 2015 at 12:00 am

ALBION – The state Department of Labor is offering more resources to Orleans County, which is among the 10 counties in New York with the highest unemployment rates.

Those 10 counties are part of an “Unemployment Strikeforce” that will offer more job training assistance and tax credits for businesses that add employees. Those incentives helped bring down unemployment in the Bronx, and that success has prompted Gov. Cuomo and the state to expand the program to 10 counties.

Orleans is the only one in the Finger Lakes Region. Other “Strikeforce” counties include the Bronx, Jefferson, Lewis, Kings, St. Lawrence, Oswego, Montgomery, Franklin and Steuben.

“Our department is focused like a laser on Orleans County,” Joe Hamm, DOL regional director, told the Orleans County Legislature. “The focus will be to connect people to work and drive down the (unemployment) rate.”

Eligible businesses could receive tax credits for up to $7,900 per employee they hire, with a cap of $100,000 in incentives per business.

Hamm said there will be funding for classroom and apprenticeship training for residents looking to improve their job skills.

The state has made $5.4 million available to help businesses in the 10 counties with training so they are hire formerly unemployed individuals.

“Access to a well-trained workforce is critical for the private sector to grow and create jobs,” Governor Cuomo said in February, when he announced the expanded program for the 10 counties. “With this funding, we’re encouraging businesses in some of the most economically distressed parts of the state to invest in their workforce and help formerly unemployed New Yorkers get back to work. This is another way that we’re working to increase employment and bring new opportunities to communities across New York State.”

This $5.4 million is available to businesses looking to expand their workforce and can be used for On-the-Job, Apprenticeship or Customized training, depending on the individual needs of the employer. The Governor’s Unemployment Strikeforce has staff who will work with all interested parties to develop programs best suited to their business and secure all funding and other incentives for which that business is eligible.

Orleans County’s unemployment rate was 7.8 percent in February, above the state average of 6.4 percent and the national average of 5.8 percent.

For more information on the “Strikeforce,” visit