Job Center STEPS

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Yes, they are from the government (from left) — MDES employees Thomas Ayodele, LaDonna Thomas and Tera Collins — and yes, they helped Big Delta Honda owner Brent Rowsey (second from right). Through the MS STEPS program one-half of the wages and benefits for six months for parts and service employee John Turner (right) were reimbursed to the company. Rowsey, with an overflow inventory of ATVs, UTVs, side-by-sides and motorcycles, has positioned Big Delta Honda to take advantage of economic recov

Business owner took STEPS to find right worker for job

By John Howell

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Yes, they are from the government.

And yes, they are here to help you.

That’s what employees from Batesville’s WIN Job Center told Big Delta Honda owner Brent Rowsey. Rowsey believed them and agreed to use the Mississippi STEPS program to hire a new employee. Half of the employee’s wages and fringe benefits for the first six months are being reimbursed through MS STEPS.

MS STEPS offers a wage and fringe benefit subsidy to employers who provide an hourly wage and a transferable skill to eligible participants, according to an MDES publication. Small businesses — those with 25 or fewer employees — get priority consideration, MDES representative Tera Collins said.

The program is open to Mississippians at least 18 years old who have at least one child under age 18 at home and whose total family income does not exceed 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. A family of three could make up to $45,775 annually and still be eligible.

Through MS STEPS  — Subsidized Transitional Employment Program and Services –  Rowsey was able to bring John Turner from Greenwood to work in Big Delta’s parts and service department.

“We processed John Turner and determined him eligible,” Collins said.

STEPS even helped with Turner’s relocation expenses. “It’s been a big help with my family,” Turner said.

Rowsey acknowledged that the paperwork required for participation was an initial concern. “I just wanted to know if there would be a lot of hoops to jump through. So far it’s been fine,” he said.

“Brent has been one of our best employers as far as getting his paperwork in,” Collins continued.

The employer agrees to keep the subsidized employee for a minimum of six months after the subsidy ends, according to the MS STEPS publication.

MDES representative LaDonna Rogers said that two questions she often hears from prospective employees are, “Am I guaranteed a job?” and “Is it full-time or part-time?”

An applicant is not guaranteed a job, Rogers explained. The applicant goes through the usual hiring process to determine if he or she “meets the qualifications the employer’s looking for,” she said.

Only full-time employment is eligible for the MS STEPS subsidy, Rogers added.

“I’ve told a few people that if they need some employees it would be a good idea to check with MDES,” (Mississippi Department of Employment Security) Rowsey said.

MS STEPS is currently funded through September 30. Employers must take advantage of the program by the end of August, Collins said.

Rowsey is poised at Big Delta with inventory in place to take advantage of economic recovery. Motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs and side-by-sides overflow the Big Delta Showroom at the corner of Broom Ridge Road and Cracker Barrel Drive. He’s just added the Polaris line to his dealership.

“If they extend the program, Big Delta Honda would look at hiring additional employees under the program,” Rowsey said.

“Employers need to check this out,” STEPS representative Thomas Ayodele said. “Everybody benefits,” he added.