BY ANGELINA MARTIN

Residents of Turlock no longer have to drive out of town in order to apply for assistance programs or brush up on job skills thanks to the city’s brand new South County Service Center, which is officially open for business.

The South County Service Center is a multi-agency facility and home to the Community Services Agency and Workforce Development. At the new location, 1310 West Main St., residents can apply for assistance programs that include Medi-Cal, CalWORKS and CalFresh, and also receive job training and access to computer labs.

“Access and convenience for customers is important to us,” CSA Director Kathryn Harwell said. “The southside of the county is growing and we want to provide the best service possible.”

CSA occupies the majority of the building that includes office space for more than 100 employees, customer interview rooms and conference rooms. New CSA staff will also use the building as a training center where they will learn how to administer new programs. Prior to the new building construction, CSA had been housed at 101 Lander Ave. in Turlock, which the agency quickly outgrew.

At the former Lander Avenue location, Alliance Worknet offered limited services for those looking to become employed, but the two-story design of the old building did not allow for a one-stop career resource center to operate. Alliance Worknet’s new Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act now requires the one-stop centers to be established again, and the new Workforce Development services are an integral part of the South County Service Center.

From July 2015 to June 2016, approximately 550 individuals with Turlock zip codes made visits to other one-stop career resource centers in Modesto, Patterson and Oakdale, showing the needed service demand of Turlock residents and supporting the decision to open another site in Turlock.

“This one-stop center with both departments provides much-needed services to the Turlock community,” said Doris Foster, Alliance Worknet director. “(The new location) is ideal for our customers in that it has close proximity to bus routes and accessible parking for staff and customers.”

At the center, the public will have access to the internet to conduct job search activities and access CalJOBS, where they can post resumes and search for employment opportunities. Computers, fax machines and copiers may be used for job search activities as well, and the public will also have access to typing tests and other occupational testing, resume preparation tools, recruitment announcements, workshop registration and labor market information.

The South County Service Center will also be home to other county and community partners. They include Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Learning Quest (Stanislaus Literacy Centers), Aspiranet and Haven Women’s Center.

An open house for the community is scheduled from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. today at the service center, 1310 W. Main St. The public will be able to tour the facility during the open house, and agency staff will be on hand to answer questions.