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Governor Nixon Announces Program to Create New Jobs in Joplin

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon held a press conference in Joplin Wednesday to announce the details of the Missouri Disaster Recovery Jobs Program. KSMU's Samuel Crowe reports.

The new program is designed to create more than 400 clean-up and humanitarian jobs for those who were left unemployed following the May 22nd tornado that hit the Joplin area. The program, funded through the federal Workforce Investment Act, will expand the recovery efforts of the National Guard and local volunteers. Colonel William Ward, commander of the Missouri National Guard Task Force Phoenix, highlighted the basic duties that workers will have.

“The way I see us utilizing this workforce, the contractors will be employed to conduct debris removal, light debris removal, and humanitarian aid within the debris removal area.”

David Kerr, director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development, estimates that the hiring process from start to finish should take only a couple of weeks.

“We would anticipate that within 10-14 days we should be able to have everything in place, with the applications, the physicals, the reviews, the interviews to everything to put people to work within 10-14 days.”

And while the exact pay rate is still unknown, Jasen Jones, Executive Director of the Workforce Investment Board of Southwest Missouri, gave some insights on wages.

“There is a process where we have to have those wages approved, if you will, determined by the U.S. Department of Labor as well as the Missouri Department of Economic Development. I can say with confidence that they will pay significantly higher than minimum wage.”

Governor Jay Nixon says that while this is a significant step in rebuilding Joplin, it is only the beginning.

“This is our initial investment in putting people back to work and we will continue to move forward and be innovative in this area. This is an initial step forward which will make an impact, but it is by no means the completion of what we are going to be doing down here.”

Nixon estimates that between forty five hundred and nine thousand jobs were lost because of the tornado, and urges those who are unemployed to begin applying for these new jobs immediately. For KSMU news, I’m Samuel Crowe.