Marion IDES Office to Join with Man-Tra-Con

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By Hilary LeHew

MARION -- The Illinois Department of Employment Security has agreed to keep an ofice in town, just weeks after IDES announced it will close its Marion facility. It won't stay at its current location off of route 13, but the IDES now plans to move a smaller section of the office down the road.


Whether you're searching for a job or seeking unemployment benefits, Man-Tra-Con will soon be a complete one-stop-shop for jobseekers.


"We've got some counties down here with high unemployment and stuff, so we need places for them people to go and get help," insists State Senator Gary Forby of Benton.


IDES announced it will be joining Man-Tra-Con. It comes just one month after IDES decided to consolidate its Marion office with the Mt. Vernon location. It's a move that didn't sit well with Representative John Bradley and Senator Gary Forby.


"I want to know why Marion, Illinois was picked," says Forby. "I said how do you pick places like that? And I never got a straight answer," he insists during a phone interview Saturday.


The agency says 90% of unemployment claims are done online, but Forby says losing that face-to-face contact isn't fair.


"We have a lot of people down south that, you know, don't have computers, maybe have a hard time on the telephone calling somebody and such, so I just thought it was a big deal."


Forby says he and Bradley made phone calls and Man-Tra-Con CEO Kathy Lively offered the space.


In the coming weeks, IDES along with the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, more commonly known as LIHEAP, will move in and the old IDES office will shut its doors.


"These are taxpayer dollars, so our folks who have lost a job, paid for these services," explains Lively. "It's not charity, it's something they've earned. So we encourage them to take advantage of them, because they've earned the services."


Only part of the IDES building will move in with Man-Tra-Con, and it hasn't been decided how many employees will stay in Marion.


A spokesman for IDES says the federal budget restraints are significant, so the agency is choosing to invest in people and not buildings.
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