By Samantha Miller, Business Services Coordinator at Alameda County Workforce Development Board

The Alameda County Workforce Development Board (ACWDB) and The Corporation for Manufacturing Excellence (Manex) have expanded their Business Assistance Program (BAP) for small to mid-sized manufacturers in Alameda County to provide assistance in response to COVID-19 challenges. The program provides 10 companies with a free, thorough assessment of their operations and/or finances and strategies to get back on their feet. With the sudden economic upheaval in the wake of COVID-19, small and mid-sized manufacturers who already face ongoing challenges with maintaining workforce, filling orders, and cash flow are even more vulnerable as non-essential businesses are asked to close. The BAP project can benefit these companies through a Manex assessment and consultation in the added area of cash management. 

“The Alameda County Workforce Development Board has stepped up once again to assist small and medium-sized manufacturers in difficult times. We value these assessments because they open up our expertise in operational excellence, cash management and using our contacts and grants to assist the manufacturing community,” said Gene Russell, President & CEO of Manex. “There is much value to connecting the manufacturing community with our federal and state grants that could go further beyond the assessment. These are exceptionally difficult times for employees, owners and their clients.”

For ACWDB, the BAP is central to its Layoff Aversion Strategy – a mandate under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to assist companies before they reach a crisis. With so many companies temporary closing at once due to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing this layoff aversion assistance is more critical than ever. Through the fiscal and business assessment and recommendations for improvement each company receives, ACWDB and Manex can help address the urgent needs of companies and connect them to additional resources to help them flourish again.

After the intense layoffs that occurred as a result of the NUMMI and Solyndra closures in 2010 and 2011, ACWDB and Manex teamed up in 2012 to create the BAP and work with distressed companies to stabilize businesses and allow them to grow. Workforce Investment Act (WIA) funds were used to assist troubled companies under a “scholarship” designation at no cost. ACWDB and Manex subsequently secured an Employment Training Panel (ETP) grant through the State of California to provide training to hundreds of companies thereby also reducing their out of pocket costs.

As a result, small distressed companies were able to revitalize their businesses at no cost while those that were better off financially were able to use generous amounts of ETP funds to reduce their training costs. This win-win strategy was recognized by the California Association for Local Economic Development (CALED) for its innovation and creativity.

Advanced manufacturing is a priority industry sector highlighted in ACWDB’s Industry Sector and Occupational Framework (ISOF), which guides its work we do. Not only was the sector projected as a high-growth industry sector in Alameda County between 2017-2022 based on labor market information analysis, but it shows current substantial impact, leads to economic self-sufficiency and opportunities for advancement and contributes to the growth of supporting businesses and industry. ACWDB’s career centers prioritize the industry in developing workforce activities for job seeker participants in Alameda County and it is our intention that the BAP will assist these companies in continuing to be the drivers of the local economy.

To apply for the Business Assessment Program, contact Manex at or 877-33-MANEX.


About the Author

Samantha Miller is the Business Services Coordinator at Alameda County Workforce Development Board. The Alameda County Workforce Development Board (ACWDB) is a 27-member employer-led oversight body of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Title I programs in Alameda County (outside the city of Oakland). ACWDB sets local program policies in alignment with the WIOA and ensures that there are comprehensive WIOA services for job seekersyouth, and employers. ACWDB also develops strategic partnerships to address workforce issues.  ACWDB members represent the business community, higher education, economic development, labor, government, and community-based organizations. Please visit ACWDB’s website for more information and for links to COVID-19-specific resources.