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 Washington, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao and U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., announced today that work on a multi-million dollar job training center to be located in Riverton should begin soon. The center will be the first located in Wyoming.

"This new center in Riverton furthers Job Corps’ mission of helping young Americans overcome barriers to employment," said Secretary Chao. "The Riverton Job Corps Center will provide education and skills training that young workers need to succeed in the 21st century worldwide economy."

"I’ve been working with Secretary Chao for years to make this happen and appreciate all she’s done. One thing Wyoming needs more of are skilled workers and this center can help supply that need, but as much as what it can potentially do for the economy of the state, it can do even more for the individual by helping that young person achieve a better life. This is exciting news," said Enzi, who is the Ranking Member on the Senate Labor Committee.

The new Job Corps Center will provide academic assistance and career technical training to about 550 students from Fremont County and around the state. High school and General Equivalency Diploma programs will also be offered. Career technical training courses will be available that will help prepare young people for careers in high-skill, high-growth industries in the 21st century worldwide economy.

Among the criteria in selecting sites for Job Corps centers is a plan that incorporates strong community support and cooperation with state and local agencies, community colleges, local school districts and civic groups.

"Job Corps is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive residential, education and job training program for at-promise youth," said Job Corps Director Esther R. Johnson. "These centers not only benefit young people in need of help, but local employers as well. Each year, Job Corps deploys to communities around this country young people who have found their place in society, young people who are ready for the workforce of the 21st century, and young people who are ready to change their communities for the better."

Since its inception in 1964, Job Corps has opened the door to opportunity for more than two million disadvantaged young people ages 16-24. The program is self paced and can take between eight months and two years depending on the career area of study. Students are provided with career counseling and transition support for up to 12 months after they graduate. Enzi estimated the investment in the center would be from $30-40 million by the time the center is completed. The target for having students in the facility is 2011. Land acquisition for the center should begin this year.

"The unemployment rate in Fremont County is consistently higher than the rest of Wyoming. Riverton, the future site of the Wind River Job Corps Center, is also within the boundaries of the Wind River Reservation where great poverty and limited resources exist for educational opportunities. A Job Corps Center will provide a vital service in educating and training disadvantaged youth in Fremont County and Wyoming for employment in the energy sector," Enzi said.

Enzi gave special thanks to Chao and Iowa’s Senator Harkin, the Chairman of the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee, who has been very interested in starting satellite Job Corps Centers to reach new areas. Enzi also singled out Sandy Barton with the Fremont County Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).

"Sandy has pulled together an excellent team and did the early ground work with the local community, state and industries to gain their support. Sandy has devoted more than the last year of her life to bringing Job Corps to Wyoming and I congratulate her on her success," Enzi said.