Cherokee Nation connects hundreds of displaced workers to stable employment through federal grant

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. — The Cherokee Nation is thanking a U.S. Department of Labor grant after the tribe was able to provide more than 265 displaced workers with stable employment during the COVID-19 pandemic

Starting in 2020, the Cherokee Nation stated that they experienced a series of dislocated workers due to the pandemic and unstable economy. The U.S. Department of Labor recently announced its Employment and Training Administration awarded the Cherokee Nation $5.6 million in total funds to help the tribe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was essential that our Cherokee people have good quality, stable jobs to support their families during this global crisis, and these federal funds certianly had a hand in helping us to achieve this mission,” said Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. “Together, we have been able to provide the necessary services and jobs to get through these hardships and help our citizens find new careers.”

The Cherokee Nation said they established two PPE manufacturing facilities and a meat processing plant during the pandemic to provide essentials to Cherokee families and to create new jobs. Several displaced workers were placed in those facilities for staffing.

Chad Hayes, 34, of the Rocky Mountain community near Stilwell was working construction and without work for four months after the pandemic hit, because most construction halted, according to the Cherokee Nation. Since February 2021, he has been working as a machine operator at the Cherokee Nation’s PPE facility in Stilwell.

“I was just staying at home and waiting for construction jobs and told we’ll let you know if we find something,” explained Hayes. “Basically, I gave up on that and found the job in the Restore program. It’s worked out having a steady job, being so close to home and the hours are great because I have a daughter that goes to school, and I can drop her off every day and pick her up, so that helps out a whole lot too.”

The Cherokee Nation also said they placed dislocated workers as COVID-19 screeners and other, related positions during the pandemic.

The tribe’s Career Services department oversees the grant, also known as the Restore program.

The grant began in August 2020 for citizens who were directly or indirectly affected by COVID-19 and “displaced” from their previous employment. The tribe has used $4.3 million in funding so far for job opportunities.

“The additional $1.3 million allows us to continue the operation of this vital Restore program which has been extremely beneficial to our citizens,” said Cherokee nation Deputy Chief Bryan Warner. “We will continue to use these funds to deliver employment, training services and jobs for our people during difficult times.”

According to the Department of Labor, the grant is one of 64 COVID-19 Dislocated Worker Grants awarded by the department to help address the workforce-related effects of the pandemic.

For more information on the Restore program at Cherokee Nation, you can call (918)-453-5555.


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