MOUNT VERNON — The benefits and recent success of the Collabor8 virtual call center and the Job-A-Bego mobile resource center with Knox County Jobs & Family Services were highlighted Wednesday morning in a state shared services initiative titled “Beyond Boundaries — A Shared Services Action Plan” at Opportunity Knox Employment Center. Numerous elected officials and representatives from various JFS offices were on hand to hear presentations on these local programs which were selected by Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s office as prime examples of shared services initiatives.
“These two programs both fit the model for what they want to see government doing in being more effective and efficient,” said Knox County JFS Director Matthew Kurtz about the Job-A-Bego and the Collabor8 program. The mobile resource center, utilized by Delaware, Morrow, Marion and Knox counties, gives those seeking employment the opportunity to use resources in a mobile setting plus receive helpful job-seeking assistance. The Collabor8 program, which incorporates these counties plus Hancock, Wood and Sandusky, allows callers with public assistance case issues from all participating counties to receive assistance from a centralized call center rather than relying on someone being available at their local center.
“They help us leverage the unique strengths we have in each county and develop programs that help us support each other,” said Kurtz of these programs. “We can utilize our employee base in a way that is similar to what a metro area would do. We’re able to shift workloads based on who’s available. And we’re able to share our resources and our people as though we were one operation.”
Kurtz said that there has been interest in these programs from other counties with Collabor8 being an official pilot program with Ohio JFS. “The Job-A-Bego was made available because of some one-time funding that came along. But there are a lot of counties that are interested in the concept,” he said.
Addressing the crowd at Opportunity Knox on Wednesday was Randy Cole, Beyond Boundaries controlling board president and policy advisor for Gov. Kasich.
“These are very exciting programs,” said Cole. “What they show us is how multiple counties can work together, especially in a more rural or suburban area, to leverage their assets, create new economies and to make sure we are providing vital services that sometimes only the big counties think they can provide. And these are being done very efficiently and saving taxpayer money.”
In looking at what has been discovered through Beyond Boundaries, Cole said by implementing the shared services action plan, “We can provide the tools and the knowledge for those people to follow the leaders. We are in a permanent change. Being transparent and being more efficient is our future.”
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