State Funds Aid Laid Off APC Workers

Posted at: 06/24/2013 9:49 PM
Updated at: 06/24/2013 10:14 PM
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- Last Wednesday, a Minneapolis-based frozen food company called Bellisio Foods Inc. bought the Austin Packaging Company for $6.1 million.

But for the more than 80 workers who were laid off this spring, that isn't the money they're concerned with.

But newly increased funding for a number of local programs could prove critical for those out of work.

Over the past few months, the Austin Workforce Development Center received $210,000 in state grant money specifically to help APC workers who were laid off this spring.

Gabriel Makuol lost his job as a shipping coordinator in March, and thanks to the workforce center he said he's getting a fresh start.

Makuol is now studying at Riverland Community College through the workforce center's dislocated workers program, which allows him to attend Riverland for free for two years, or until he finds a full-time job.

“I went back to school, and I don't know what my future's going to be, but you have to do something because chances always come once. That's it,” Makuol said. “I found that was an opportunity for me to go back to school."

Makuol says a number of APC workers enrolled in the same program, and he said it's given all of them a chance to turn a bad situation into a tremendous opportunity.

“I don't worry about it because you have to do something. you lost a job today that's not the end of your life,” Makuol said. “I’m happy and I'm confident that two years from now I'll be somebody different."

Officials involved in the deal between APC and Bellisio Foods Inc. said the new owners are potentially looking to expand the business' operations.

It was not immediately clear whether they would look to rehire any of APC’s former employees.