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Local News

September 16, 2013

City officials push to renew Job Corps contract

ETR doesn't qualify to retain 'small business' designation

Oneonta municipal, business and other leaders, citing improvements at the Oneonta Job Corps Academy, are pushing officials in Washington, D.C., to amend legislation to allow the current operator a chance to bid for another contract to manage the facility.

Educational and Training Resources, based in Bowling Green, Ky., is in the last year of a five-year contract to operate the academy, a residential training program for disadvantaged youths. About 260 students are enrolled at the Oneonta center, which has about 145 employees, officials said last week. The center is authorized through the Department of Labor to enroll about 290 students. 

ETR operates three other Job Corps facilities, including another in New York state. Anand Vimalassery, government relations director for the National Job Corps Association, said when ETR won the contract to operate the Oneonta Job Corps, the firm qualified under federal Small Business Administration criteria to be an operator. 

But after winning four contracts, ETR technically no longer is a “small business,” he said, and ETR won’t have an opportunity to compete in the next round of bidding for the Oneonta center.

The issue has been discussed among Washington officials, sources said, and reportedly an amendment to the Workforce Investment Act of 2013 would address the eligibility factor. However, the Workforce Investment Act was passed out of the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on July 31 without amendment.

On Sept. 9, the U.S. Department of Labor, which awards Job Corps contracts, issued a notice seeking information pertaining to the operation of the Oneonta Job Corps Center for planning purposes. The Department of Labor is conducting market research for the upcoming procurement requirement for the operation of the local center, the notice said. 

The Department of Labor didn’t respond by Friday night to a request emailed Wednesday for information.

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