State gets BRAC grants

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The region has a little more flexibility to help workers who will be impacted by the Department of Defenses base realignment, thanks to a $5 million grant just awarded by the Department of Labor.

Skillsource Group, the financial arm of the Northern Virginia Workforce Board, applied just last week for the grant money after being notified of its availability by state officials.

Funds are to be used to plan for worker relocation, including helping those who get laid off find training or other employment services.

The money cannot, however, be used to solve the many transportation problems Northern Virginia faces from the next round of base realignments and closures.

Arlington County, the City of Alexandria and Prince William County will also have access to the grant. While Arlingtons problems will stem mainly from loss of workers because of closures in the Crystal City area, the problems in points west are just the opposite. Many jobs will relocate to the Fort Belvoir area of Fairfax and south along Route 1 into Prince William County and those counties will need as much help as they can to deal with the huge shift of workers.

We can use these funds to help support [worker] transitions, said David Hunn, president and CEO of Skillsource. We have to help workers themselves relocate, but also their families.

The Arlington-Alexandria Workforce Board has done some preliminary studies over the past two years, examining how the regions workforce might be most challenged because of BRAC, Hunn said.

The region wont really start to feel the impacts until 2009 or 2010, when jobs actually start moving.

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