MDES funding finding new jobs

Published 5:00 am Monday, May 11, 2009

The promotion of a veteran Mississippi Department of EmploymentSecurity executive in the Lincoln County office was only the heraldof many changes occurring in the agency.

David Holland, the former MDES Brookhaven branch director, waspromoted and given an expanded role as division director inDecember. Prior to the promotion, he supervised agency activitiesin Lincoln, Lawrence, Franklin, Copiah and Simpson counties. Thepromotion added Pike, Amite and Walthall counties to Holland’sresponsibilities.

“This is a new job title within MDES,” he said. “It’s the firstdivision director position. It’s a new concept and it’s going well,I think.”

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Holland now directs offices in Brookhaven, Hazlehurst and McCombas well as part-time offices in Mendenhall and Tylertown.

“I spend a lot of time traveling, but they’re all relativelyclose so I’m still home every night,” he said.

The expansion has increased the number of employees Hollandsupervises from 20 to more than 50, not including part-timeemployees and personnel subcontracted by MDES to operate specificprograms.

Ora Franklin, the former Brookhaven office’s federal programssupervisor, has moved into Holland’s previous position.

“We’re able to slowly transfer into this since I’m still basedhere,” Holland said.

New branch managers were also named in McComb and Hazlehurst aspart of a much larger reorganization and realignment of agencyservices.

“I think (this new position is) a benefit to the three officemanagers, too,” he said. “Now we’re all operating on the same pageand we weren’t always doing that.”

Stimulus money received through the American Recovery andReinvestment Act has provided the agency with funding for new hiresand programs and increased funding for existing programs.

“It’s going to be a busy summer,” Holland said.

For example, Holland said 11 people have been hired in his eightcounties to work the summer jobs program, which helps high schooland college students find summer employment. He said more than1,620 summer jobs are available in his area. Competition for thosejobs is fierce, especially in the present economic situation.

Changes to existing programs have also taken place. BeginningMay 18, all new unemployment insurance claims will be made over thephone at 1-888-844-3577. Currently, the initial claim is filed atthe MDES office and the telephone service is used for updates.

“We’ll be here to answer questions and help them through theprocess, but the claims will actually have to be made over thephone,” Holland said.