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State program connects military veteran with Laclede County opportunity

A cooperative effort between the Missouri National Guard and the Missouri Division of Workforce Development (DWD) recently connected a military veteran with a job opportunity in Laclede County.

Premier Auto Rebuilders and Truck Salvage (Premier), located in Phillipsburg, is one of the newest employers to support the Show-Me Heroes Program, which has a mission of connecting the state’s businesses with highly qualified job seekers with military experience and to promote the benefits of hiring Veterans and National Guard and Reserve Service Members.

As a result of the company’s participation in the program, Premier was able to hire Dan Massey as its sales manager and take advantage of on-the-job training reimbursements provided by Show-Me Heroes.

“This program worked out really well,” said Brandon Mott, Premier owner. “It helped us find a really good, quality candidate for our open position.”

Program participation was a simple process for Premier. The company initially reached out to Lebanon Regional Economic Development, Inc., (REDI) after interest from a veteran for the open sales manager position. REDI staff worked with Geoffrey Bieniek, Veteran Employment Specialist with DWD, to provide the company with detailed information on the Show-Me Heroes Program. Premier then coordinated with Dan Burrows, Career Consultant of Gamm Incorporated, to qualify both the company and job candidate for the program’s offerings.

A business can participate in the program if it has taken the “Show-Me Heroes Pledge,” which is available at showmeheroes.mo.gov, the potential job position is full time or a minimum of 32 hours per week and the company is also active in E-verify.  Veterans are eligible if they are honorably discharged and are within one year of their discharge date. Spouses of currently deployed or recently discharged eligible service members may also participate.

When both employer and employee are approved, the worker’s wages are reimbursed 50 percent for up to six months of on-the-job training.

The arrangement is helping Premier off-set the initial training needs of Massey, a St. Louis native who now lives in Sleeper.

“I enlisted into the U. S. Army in 2012 and completed basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood,” said Massey.

After basic training, Massey received additional instruction to become an intel analyst. He was stationed in Germany for two years before transferring to the state of Washington. The Show-Me Heroes program allowed him to receive a skillset he didn’t previously have.

“I think it is a really great program because it allows veterans to get training in a field they have never worked in before,” said Massey. “It gives companies an incentive to hire veterans and it helps takes care of some of the training costs of hiring a new employee that doesn’t have any background or skills in that specific field.

“I had never worked in a salvage yard before,” he added. “I didn’t know anything about working in a salvage yard. This program has allowed me to start working here (Premier) and to obtain the training I need to be successful in this position. The Show-Me Heroes program is helping to make that happen.”

Brian Thompson, president/chief executive officer of REDI, added that the connection between veterans and area employers through the Show Me-Heroes program is another success story for economic development efforts in Laclede County.

“I’m excited to see this opportunity work out in connecting this program with a local employer,” said Thompson. “I encourage other area employers to support this effort. And, this is another example of all hands on deck for the economic development process for our county.”

Thompson noted that veterans will likely have many of the soft skills that employers seek even if they aren’t at first familiar with a particular line of work and also said that the Premier-Massey connection helped bring a new person to the county’s labor force since the military veteran moved to the Sleeper community.

“Any chance we get to grow our quality workforce and attract someone to our county, I think it is only a win-win situation,” said Thompson.

For more information on the Show-Me Heroes program, visit www.showmeheroes.mo.gov or call 417-532-6146.