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Columbia County Observer

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FL Crown Workforce Bd: New Executive Director a Native Son – Gives First Report to the Board

Robert Jones (standing), Florida Crown's new Executive Director, took center stage at yesterday's Workforce Board/Consortium meeting.

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Florida's Workforce Boards are some of the state's most difficult organizations to run. There are multiple revenue streams and a multitude of federal and state rules and regulations. Regional Workforce Boards are the employment agencies of Florida. They do job training, welfare transition, resume assistance, and skills assessment. From factory workers to executives, Florida Crown has been serving Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, and Union counties since 2000. Recently, Columbia County native son, Robert Jones, has risen to the top to become Florida Crown's Executive Director.

Yesterday afternoon, Mr. Jones presided over his first Workforce Board/Consortium meeting. It was a full house as Mr. Jones updated the Board on recent developments in workforce related issues in the state and region.

The Board approved raising the Worker Investment Act Individual Training Accounts Program cap on funding for tuition, books and fees from $6,000 to $9,000. This is good news for folks in the nursing program at Florida Gateway College.

The other big news is that Florida Crown is bringing Arbor/Rescare Workforce Services, the outside contractor which provides job seeker and employer services in house. Now in transition and expected to begin on November 1, Arbor/Rescare employees will now be direct hires of Florida Crown and the HR services for those employees will be handled by Landrum Human Resources for a flat administrative fee of 3.35% of the payroll cost.

Executive Director Jones was all business at yesterday's meeting.

According to Florida Crown's Finance Director, Bill Howard, there are presently 19 employees who will be affected by the change. Landrum will be handling human resources management; workers’ compensation/safety; employee benefit package (includes medical, dental, eye care, short & long term disability and 401(K) contributions , payroll processing, training, and timekeeping.

The changeover will be transparent and the services formerly provided by Arbor will be the same, with the only difference being that Florida Crown will now be doing the hiring and related HR tasks.


Post Meeting Interview With Executive Director, Robert Jones

Observer:  For years you have been the Director of Finance at Florida Crown. Is being the director what you expected?

Executive Director Jones:  Yes. I’ve been around since 98. I'm used to the system. It's pretty much what I expected.

Observer:  Have you encountered any major problems?

Executive Director Jones:   Not really. It was a little new, but I knew what was happening.

Observer:  Can you tell me little bit about your educational background?

Executive Director Jones:  I graduated from Columbia County High School; received my undergraduate degree in finance from UF and my masters in public administration from the University of North Florida, Jacksonville.

Observer:  Do you consider yourself a role model?

Executive Director Jones:  In some instances I think I am. I was born and raised here in Lake City. I went off to college. Then I came back and stuck around ever since.

Observer:  Have you encountered any problems that you didn't expect to encounter?

Executive Director Jones:  The budget cuts at the beginning of the fiscal year were a little drastic. We had to do some adjustment for that, but basically it's been the same. Budget cuts were the major issue.

Observer:  How do you feel now that you've brought all services in house?

Executive Director Jones:   It will be a benefit to us. It's much easier to work with employees when they are our employees rather than having to go through a contractor. We have control to hire, fire and take care of discipline.

Observer:     Are you happy with the new job?

Executive Director Jones:   Yeah, I'm happy; (laughs) it's getting there.


About an hour later, during a conversation with Pat Perry, the Chief Deputy of the Columbia County Circuit Court, it turned out that she was a classmate of Mr. Jones during their days at Columbia County High School.

She said, "He was quite and really smart, and he was very nice."

Not much has changed.

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