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Community Response Team Working to Mitigate Impact of Drs. Foster and Smith Closure on Employees

Josh Junig-WXPR

Following the January announcement of 289 jobs being eliminated by PETCO at Drs. Foster and Smith in Rhinelander, a Community Response Team has been meeting to assist employees and their families to transition from PETCO employment to other employment and training opportunities.

The team includes staff members of state and federal legislators, along with state, county, and municipal government, business organizations, non-profit agencies, health care, and economic development organizations. Following an initial meeting January 15, the team has met twice to discuss issues and develop approaches to assisting workers and their families.

Rhinelander Mayor Chris Frederickson says the effort will continue a multi-agency approach..

"...Petco has their own team they've paid to come in to update the staff with different resume writing skills. We've been making sure they're getting the information. On the community side, there's been some good outreach in healthcare and how to handle those things and to get those questions in front of those workers..."

Fredericson says the state has also assisted with the workers and have talked to Petco workers about benefits. Information provided includes re-employment, skills upgrading, long term training, as well as assisting with coordinating unemployment insurance information. 

It's expected approximately 80 percent of the Petco workers will be let go between March 1-10, with an additional round in May and a final round in June. The company intends to continue operating its Live Aquaria business at its Rhinelander site, which employs about 70 people.

Frederickson says they've also reached out to Shopko workers, who will be losing jobs when the store closes in Rhinelander in May.