President Preckwinkle Addresses the First Annual Meeting of the Chicago-Cook Workforce Partnership

President Preckwinkle addresses the First Annual Meeting of the Chicago-Cook Workforce Partnership

The Chicago-Cook Workforce Partnership held its first Annual Meeting on August 15, 2013.  Speaking to a full-house, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle spoke about the creation of the Partnership and its work with business, community colleges and delegate agencies to train people for the jobs and careers in high-demand industries.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Mayor, City of Chicago delivered his message on video and spoke about the Partership allowing Chicago to close the gap between those who cannot find jobs and employers who have available jobs, but cannot find skilled workers.

Darrell Hackett, Sr. Vice President/BMO Harris/Workforce Investment Board welcomed everyone to the Annual Meeting.  BMO Harris was also the site of the annual meeting.  Talks were given by Frank Clark, Board Co-Chair and Dr. Kenneth Ender, Board Co-Chair.  Herman Brewer, Bureau Chief, Cook County Bureau of Economic Development spoke about the vital role workforce development has in creating jobs for today’s economy throughout our region.  He spoke about major industries such as manufacturing and transportation in need of workers with the right skills for today’s jobs. 

Karin M. Norington-Reaves, CEO gave a longer overview of all the work it took to get the Partnership up and running.  She explained that not only did they have a tremendous amount of work to do, but they were under a tight deadline to get it done. One of her major strategic goals involved leveraging existing and new resources to pilot innovative programs and share best practices.  She and her Board created The Partnership by replacing the three administrative agencies that used to oversee federal workforce development funds and programs throughout Cook County and the City of Chicago (the Chicago Department of Family & Support Services (DFSS), the Northern Cook Workforce Board (NCWB) and Cook County Works (CCW)). Already in the first year, the Partnership has saved  more than $2 million annually by eliminating redundant functions across 3 different administrative agencies.  This was accomplished by streamlining the work of 3 agencies into one, new, not-for-profit known as the Chicago-Cook Workforce Partnership.    The collaboration resulted in the creation of our nation’s second largest local workforce investment area, however it is the largest that is managed by a non-profit.     The Partnership’s business relations team was also responsible for the direct placement of more than 500 people who were hired with salaries ranging from $10 per hour to more than $70,000 per year. That is in addition to the more than 7,000 people placed by the delegate agencies.  Quite a bit of Karin’s time was spent talking about the success of Platform to Employment (P2E), designed by officials in Connecticut and implemented in Cook County. Its aim is to help the long-term unemployed and veterans who haven’t been able to find jobs. There were hundreds more applicants for the program then could be accommodated.  However, a goal of the Partnership is to expand this successful and much needed program.  She publically thanked all Board Members and staff for their hard work and long hours devoted to getting the Chicago-Cook Partnership up and running successfully. 

View photos from the event:

Today, the Chicago-Cook Partnership continues its work to connect companies to prescreened job-ready candidates.  They offer Workforce Centers in a professional environment for job seekers to find employment; help businesses find trained, pre-screened job ready candidates; and assist people who are employed explore potential career options. Each center has knowledgeable staff that provides assistance and access to essential tools and resources.  All services are free.

To find the workforce centers and delegate agencies within Cook County, go to: