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Funds to be used for pilot program

New bus route will enable residents to get to jobs at Hunters Green Business Center

New bus route will enable residents to get to jobs at Hunters Green Business Center

November 04, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY - A pilot program that will bus Washington County residents to jobs in the Hunters Green Business Center will serve two purposes, the general manager of the Petsmart Distribution Center said.

It will help people find work, and potentially create a larger hiring pool for Petsmart, one of the companies that might participate in the program, Rick Domzalski said.

"I'm interested (in the program) because it's going to allow potential associates to get transportation to the Hopewell Valley industrial area," Domzalski said. "The unemployment rate is so low that it's not always easy to find the right associates."

The state Governor's Office for Children authorized the county to use $166,000 in state funding to set up a County Commuter bus route to transport people to jobs in the business park off Hopewell Road.

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Maryland Department of Human Resources Secretary Christopher J. McCabe and Governor's Office for Children Executive Director Arlene Lee announced the news at a press conference Friday at Home Depot Direct in Hunters Green Business Center.

State Family Investment Executive Director Kevin McGuire also announced the Washington County Department of Social Services will receive $110,000 for four other job-related programs.

The state has billed the transportation program as one that will help transition people from welfare to employment. Fifty percent of those who take the bus to work are transitioning off welfare into the work force, according to a written statement from the state.

The county has said the program will be available to residents receiving temporary cash assistance.

Twenty businesses are in the business park, according to the state.

The Governor's Office for Children initially rejected the county's proposal to use the money for the transportation program, saying the program lacked a plan on how it would be sustained when the initial money runs out.

But after that, the state worked with local officials and businesses to revive the plan, McCabe said after the press conference.

"We decided that we needed to try to be creative and enter into partnerships ..." McCabe said.

McCabe said the Department of Human Resources would work with the Maryland Transportation Administration to determine whether federal funding is available for future years, and work with employers to see whether they would pitch in.

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