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Local Rapid Response Team Forms To Help Displaced Petco Workers


Representatives of more than a dozen agencies met Tuesday afternoon to form a rapid response team to be able to help soon- to- be- displaced Petco employees. Petco announced 289 workers will be laid off by June from the Rhinelander facility.

One of the key people working to organize the team is Rene Daniels, the Executive Director of North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board. They have been designated as the lead agency to respond to mass worker layoffs.

She says the goal is to get help to laid off workers as soon as possible..

"In this kind of dislocation I think you would think it's a perfect opportunity, and I think you would agree with us, that we have all of these workers that have good work history, they have good skill sets, maybe it's an opportunity for them to retrain and look for other jobs in the community they might pivot to...."

Daniels says it's key that the workers not make quick decisions before seeing all the options they have before them. Petco has hired a firm to work initially with laid-off employees to explain benefits such as severance.

Cindy Kiesling, Director of the Workforce Inovation and Opportunity Dislocated Worker Program said a key goal is to make sure the workers get the straight story regarding what they need to know to navigate their futures..

"Our goal is to move in and calm that workforce and make sure you get those smooth transitions and to get folks to other opportunities and to let them know what those other opportunities are..."

The group asked Mayor Chris Frederickson to organize on-going meetings of the team which will be held Tuesdays at Rhinelander City Hall.

Members of the Oneida County Board, Oneida County Economic Development, UW-Extension, W.E.D.C., Nicolet College, Job Service, Chamber of Commerce, Grow North were among the agencies to form the rapid response team.

Those officials at Tuesday's meeting took a portion of the duties needing to be done initially and will report back at the meetings spearheaded by Frederickson.

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