Good News on the Jobs Front – Federal money helps small businesses hire

At a time when people are questioning the value of the federal government’s stimulus spending, one program is showing real results for small businesses — and the people they’re able to hire.

When Mike Hannigan, president and cofounder of Oakland-based Give Something Back Business Products, wanted to hire new workers, he turned to Alameda County Hire. The AC Hire program reimburses him 80 percent of the workers’ wages from the date of hire to September 30, 2010. It allowed Hannigan to hire six staffers, from clerical workers to customer support to an office furniture designer. Their salaries range from $30,000 to $60,000 a year.

Hannigan said the progam gives him a head start in hiring and training staff, at a fraction of the normal payroll cost.

“We wouldn’t have hired people immediately now given the state of economy, but we know within a year or six months we needed employees,” said Hannigan.

AC Hire matches people to the job descriptions and sends them to the employers. If employers choose to hire any of those qualified applicants, federal stimulus dollars reimburse the business 80 percent of those salaries and some employment taxes too.

AC Hire focuses on assisting people who are on CalWorks, receiving unemployment, or making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. But it will consider applications from everyone.

Congress is currently working on a plan that may extend the reimbursement period but for now, it is set to expire on September 30, 2010.

Alameda County isn’t the only county offering these reimbursements.