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Rapid-response team jumps in to help Yorktowne workers

York County officials join forces with state labor department

Employees of the Yorktowne Hotel recently got news that few workers ever want to hear – the historic hotel where they work would be temporarily closing in coming weeks for two years of renovations.

But they have been getting help from a state rapid-response team that is assisted by York County’s economic-development organization.

“It’s all about getting the employees the information that they need to go through the transition, but also to provide them with opportunities to have a successful transition to new employment,” said Ellie Lamison, senior manager of workforce development for the York County Economic Alliance, which guides the county’s economic-development efforts.

Officials with the hotel have declined to give the number of workers affected by the hotel’s closure.

The Yorktowne, the nearly century-old hotel on East Market Street, will close Nov. 6 and stay closed until November 2018 while it is being renovated.

The state Labor & Industry Department has many rapid-response teams across the state, but what is unique is the level of involvement in York County from the YCEA, Lamison said.

When the news about the Yorktowne broke, Lamison notified the state agency and helped arrange a meeting, which was held this week, to help hotel employees.

“We see it as an opportunity to serve not only the employer, who is faced with the challenge of having to lay off individuals, but it’s also an opportunity to assist those individuals facing this and help them in their next step,” Lamison said in an interview this week.

Lamison has been supporting rapid-response efforts in York County since 2009, and said her role has changed in that time.

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, she more often had to work with large-scale layoffs in the York area like those at Danskin and Honeywell manufacturing facilities, she said.

But now, with a lower unemployment rate, she sees “more employment opportunities for dislocated workers than there were,” Lamison said.

The Yorktowne is owned by the York County Industrial Development Authority and managed by Hersha Hospitality Management.

There may be opportunities for Yorktowne employees to relocate within Hersha, and others from the hotel may be able to secure other hospitality-industry positions, Lamison said.

For the others who will still be looking for employment, YCEA is reaching out to its member businesses to see if the companies have openings for the Yorktowne employees.

The effort to help the Yorktowne employees will include other steps, Lamison added.

They include: what the employees’ responsibilities are in receiving unemployment; how to obtain new health insurance if needed; and to help them to develop a resume.

And “the ultimate goal is employment,” Lamison said.

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