In Business Growth, Economic Mobility, Featured News

Investing in employees is crucial for businesses. Providing people with training and services that enable them to become self-sufficient pays dividends and meets a critical need in filling the open positions of our local businesses. Making the connection between people and companies is one of the ways Workforce Southwest Washington (WSW) supports our region.

One of the resources we use for this work is Economic Security for All (EcSA), an Employment Security Department (ESD) initiative that enables local workforce boards like WSW to flexibly apply grants to help people get training to move into the workplace while also helping them meet their basic needs for food, housing and transportation.

We thank our Washington Legislators for passing House Bill 2230, the Economic Security for All (EcSA) initiative that is critical to the success of our residents and businesses.

“This legislation will ensure the program’s continuity and effectiveness as we continue to build a thriving economic ecosystem that supports strong families, businesses and communities,” said Miriam Halliday, WSW’s CEO.

When we support people in these ways, we see thriving families and individuals moving to financial self-sufficiency and growing businesses that can expand and promote their current workers.

EcSA has been a tremendous success. In the first year:

  • More than 1,285 low-income Washington families were served, many of whom were people of color and people from traditionally underserved communities.
  • 424 families with annual incomes of less than $10,000 reached self-sufficiency, increasing their median annual income to $44,762.

Support of the bill was far-reaching and included some of our wonderful WSW board members. Thank you, Tracy Doriot, owner of Doriot Construction, Ted Sprague of the Cowlitz Economic Development Council, and Adrienne Watson of PeaceHealth, for joining our CEO Miriam Halliday in Olympia on January 24 in support of House Bill 2230. Your participation and partnership were crucial.

Doriot testified before the House Human Services Committee about how House Bill 2230 and EcSA benefit his business and its employees.

He told the committee, “This program is perhaps the most important linkage between private industry and those that need jobs.” He added that coordination between groups like WSW and those who need to upskill to get jobs that provide living wages and better lives is one of the best things we can do to markedly change lives in our community.

We agree. We all recognize that poverty is a barrier to success. EcSA provides resources for individuals and families from historically underserved communities to move out of poverty and achieve self-sufficiency.

When the bill passed the House on Feb. 13, the prime sponsor echoed this in a news release: “…These grants are designed to help families with low incomes become more self-sufficient and focus especially on supporting people of color and rural residents. …Establishing the Economic Security for All grant program to promote financial stability helps our neighbors climb out of poverty and is smart stewardship of taxpayer dollars.”

Unfortunately, lack of funding had hindered access. Last year roughly 3,000 individuals across the state were placed on a waitlist or could not be served due to lack of available funds.

To close that gap, WSW and the workforce boards across the state asked lawmakers to approve additional funding for EcSA this year.

EcSA will enable the local workforce development system to do even more to support individuals on their path to self-sufficiency and meet a critical need in filling the open positions of our local businesses. Working together we can assist more people and families in moving out of poverty.

Services/programs funded with federal and state Economic Security for All (Thrive) grants. Visit our website to learn the sources and proportions.

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