Green River Star -

By David Martin

CLIMB returns to county


In a special conference Thursday featuring local officials from city, county and state governments, representatives from CLIMB Wyoming announced they plan to reintroduce the program to Sweetwater County.

Climb Wyoming focuses on providing job training to single mothers in high-demand and high-paying fields. The program was in Sweetwater County from 2007 to last October, but was pulled when the organization faced a critical budget shortfall as a result of federal funding cuts.

“How could you pull this,” Dave Hanks, CEO of the Rock Springs Chamber of Commerce recalled thinking when he found out the program would leave the county. 

Hanks said the program had visible results within the county and helped fill positions for companies who had jobs waiting for people to fill, even when the county’s unemployment rate was 3.8 percent. Even now, there are vacant jobs available, which could be prime opportunities for women with training through CLIMB.

“We still have 300 to 500 jobs that need to be filled, even with the downturn in oil and gas,” Hanks said.

Pete Rust, mayor of Green River, said his education about the program came from a city employee who had graduated from CLIMB and received commercial truck driving training.

He said the employee’s wages jumped from $8.29 an hour to more than $20 an hour, which follows statistics provided by CLIMB that graduates can, on average, increase their monthly wages from $1,073 to $3,051 after they complete. Rust said the city hasn’t officially been approached by the organization, but he has had conversations with Council members regarding potential support.

“Green River’s potential commitment is very strong,” Rust said. “They’re (Council members he’s spoken to) very supportive of the program.”

Dr. Ray Fleming Dinneen, the program’s founder and executive director, said leaving Sweetwater County was one of the hardest decisions CLIMB has made during its 29-year history. She said the program may be reinstated by next spring, saying representatives need time to connect with local employers to determine which jobs are in demand. Dr. Dinneen said CLIMB’s return to Sweetwater County came about much quicker than anticipated, which came from few funding sources.

“We knew the Sweetwater County families did well with the program,” Dr. Dinneen said. “We want to be back in Sweetwater and hear many of those (success) stories.”


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