Tuesday, December 12, 2017
Business

State workforce boards unifying under new name: CareerSource Florida

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott's directive to rebrand Florida's 24 regional help wanted centers under a single name will soon be a reality as the state replaces "workforce" with CareerSource Florida.

Some local workforce officials say it's a smart move that is long overdue. Some don't like it.

Early last year, Scott included the rebranding in his budget proposals after programs in Tampa and Orlando misspent public money and "workforce" developed image problems.

After 18 months, lots of research and about a half-million dollars, the state will soon launch its new identity.

"There's more to be gained by unifying than by maintaining a system that's fragmented with 25 different names," said Adriane Glenn Grant, vice president of external affairs at Workforce Florida, the state agency overseeing local boards that match job-seekers with employers, using federal funds.

Those boards now have separate identities: Workforce Net in Pinellas County, Tampa Bay Workforce Alliance in Tampa, Workforce One in Broward and South Florida Workforce Investment Board in Miami.

"We're very supportive," said Roderick Beasley, director of Miami's board, which is soon to become CareerSource South Florida. "It allows for unity in how the system needs to be marketed to employers. The state has done a fantastic job in ensuring that everyone's at the table."

Palm Beach County also backs the name change, spokesman Tom Veenstra said. He noted that market research showed a "lack of awareness and clarity" about the workforce mission. The state hired Ideas Orlando, a marketing firm, to develop a new brand at a cost of $498,000, and is helping to pay for the costs of new signs, business cards and other items.

Broward isn't as enthusiastic. With an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent, the state's lowest, the current system works well, said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, chairman of the county's workforce board.

Seiler said the name change is a wasteful exercise, and he chafed at the state's insistence on a specific typeface font, website colors and other features. The font costs $174, the state said.

"This is crazy," Seiler said. "We deal with people who are unemployed and are looking for work, and we do it well. … It just seems like a tremendous waste of resources."

Rusty Skinner, CEO of workforce efforts in Citrus, Levy and Marion counties, said he's worried that the change may cause confusion. He doesn't favor local workforce programs losing their local identities, either.

"It's as if we're all McDonald's franchise holders. We all have the same look, the same menu," Skinner said. "Are the 'brand police' going to come after me?"

Candace Moody of First Coast Workforce Development in and around Jacksonville said the rebranding is a positive step, but it's taking too long.

The rebranding also allows for each local program to add a local signature or "geolocator," such as CareerSource Pinellas or CareerSource Tampa Bay in Hillsborough.

Ed Peachey, CEO of workforce agencies in Pinellas and Hills­borough, did not respond to requests for comment.

Career Source is also the name for Massachusetts' job matching programs, and as Workforce Florida CEO Chris Hart IV noted, Texas switched to a single statewide brand six years ago.

"This is a no-brainer," Hart said.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at [email protected] or (850) 224-7263.

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