Team offers help after Ciena cuts

County offers hot line, training and services after job losses

`Significant layoff'

650, many of whom worked in Arundel, newly unemployed

March 28, 2002|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens has asked a team of top advisers with access to career training and social services to help residents who might be out of work because of cuts at Ciena Corp. in Linthicum.

Owens' recent decision to activate the county's Critical Response Team and to promote a work force hot line followed Tuesday's announcement that Ciena had laid off 650 employees, most of whom were assigned to offices in Anne Arundel and Howard counties.

"This is a very significant layoff," Owens said yesterday, adding that it might be the largest job reduction by a company in Anne Arundel since US Airways eliminated its Metro Jet division at BWI in December. "This may be the most significant impact we have felt to date."

Job search and career training services, along with child care and medical assistance, are available to any county resident who has lost a job and to former employees of any business with offices in the county, said Bill Badger, president and chief executive officer of Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp.

"Our offer is to help anyone whose place of employment was in Anne Arundel County," said Badger, adding that of the 650 Ciena employees laid off, about 455 worked in Anne Arundel or Howard counties.

Badger and other members of the Critical Response Team hope to meet with former Ciena employees today to offer them job search and training opportunities. As of late afternoon yesterday, no date and time had been set for the meeting, which Badger hopes to hold at the company's Linthicum offices.

Denny Bilter, Ciena's senior director of marketing, said laid-off employees got packets of information with telephone numbers and addresses of contacts who might be able to help them find jobs. "We have gone overboard trying to help them," he said.

Bilter said an "insignificant" number of those who lost jobs live in Arundel, though he declined to be more specific. Ciena officials welcome the county's help, he said.

"I can tell you that we really appreciate everything that Anne Arundel County does for us," he said, adding that the layoffs affected workers worldwide.

County officials created the Critical Response Team in December to help residents who lost their jobs because of recession-related cutbacks. Since then, about 140 people from various companies have received help. The team is funded through the economic development office.

In addition to Badger, the team includes Dorothy McGuinness, chief executive officer of Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corp.; Ed Bloom, director of the county's Social Services Department; and Andrew Meyer, a vice president with Anne Arundel Community College.

The work force hot line is 888-777-8993.

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