Federal stimulus funds could help unemployed workers get back on the job and help local businesses put them there — in some cases at a greatly reduced cost or at no expense to the business.

Federal stimulus funds could help unemployed workers get back on the job and help local businesses put them there — in some cases at a greatly reduced cost or at no expense to the business.

The Job Council in Jackson and Josephine counties is managing distribution of stimulus money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act available to help employers and would-be employees.

"It gives us a greater opportunity to help businesses and extends the time we can provide direct training with businesses," said local Job Council Business Services Manager Ken Heindsmann.

He said the influx of federal funds augments seven existing programs that have provided help for more than 1,000 job seekers during the past year. The majority of the programs have been around for several years and were part of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998.

"This enables us to put someone in a work site that becomes an employee of the business, while we pay the businesses up to 50 percent of the person's wages during training for a particular set of skills in particular occupations," Heindsmann said.

Among the program goals is improving work skills for the unemployed by providing them experience in varied capacities, from administrative assistants and secretaries to the health-care field and trades.

"By giving them experience in a given trade or occupation, they are more employable," Heindsmann said.

"These stimulus programs are an opportunity to assist business and double or triple the number of people that can get trained."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 776-4463 or e-mail business@mailtribune.com.