County Agency Helps Companies Improve Bottom Line

Businesses can increase efficiency and improve profitability by taking advantage of a wide range of services offered by KRA, a business development group contracted by the Alameda County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) to enhance their business services component and increase employer outreach in the County.

The WIB itself offers a vast array of incentives and resources including helping employers find skilled workers, offering customized training programs, improving efficiency and even restructuring to save money. The best part is that all services are free or low cost to employers.

While the many programs are offered through the federally funded Workforce Investment Board (WIB), KRA was hired to promote the many benefits the board offers to a broad spectrum of businesses. KRA works in coordination with the WIB's own Business Services team.

"Our role is to engage employers and provide profitability solutions for businesses in Alameda County," Pamela Carnes, the group's project manager, said. "Engaging employers means that we provide business services that include job placement, training, education and retention services. All of those are funded through the federal government. In addition, we promote business-to-business activity throughout Alameda County."

These benefits for local businesses were created in 1998 by the federal Workforce Investment Act.

"It's a program that is intended to help business owners and people who are out of work and to stimulate the economy," Carnes said.

The business development group often engages a company by starting with the group's core services - a business needs analysis, job postings, candidate screenings and on-site recruitment.

"We conduct a business needs analysis," Hannah Bell, the group's business service consultant, said. "The businesses may have specific needs, such as they're in a growth mode and their focus is on hiring."

Some companies may need to cut costs or change their business processes.

"Depending on what the focus of the company is, we can direct them to the resources that would be the best fit for them," Bell noted.

The WIB has four one-stop career centers throughout the county that provide support for job seekers. The closest career center to Hacienda is in Dublin with other locations in Newark, Hayward, Alameda and Berkeley.

The career centers are an outstanding resource for employers to find qualified workers while saving the expense of paying recruiters or posting on expensive job sites.

KRA's business development group promotes a variety of training services to help a company improve its operations. Services include on-the-job training that reimburses employers up to $5,000 in wages paid or the first 520 hours, whichever comes first.

The WIB's Business Services team will work with employers to customize training to upgrade the skills of existing employees. There are also tax credits and fidelity bonding available to employers.

"We can also help employers with labor market information to let them know if what they're paying their employees is competitive with the going rate in the area," Bell said.

The business development group also offers an array of value-added services. Employers can offer industry-specific workshops at career centers or take part in panels that allow employers in different industries to meet with qualified job seekers.

The development group can even "work with local community colleges to develop a program to fill the current skill sets and current needs that employers are looking to hire," Bell said.

Companies that take advantage of the group's services and incentives can stay on the cutting edge by hiring the best employees and running an efficient organization.

"Our job is to educate employers about what's available to them, find out what their needs are and connect them with the right resources in an effort to reduce their costs and increase their profits," Carnes said.

"We're really working on getting the word out," Bell added. "I want to introduce myself as their business service consultant. I'll be more than happy to come out and visit them."

Learn more about the business services at Contact Hannah Bell at or 510-736-7222.

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