Those who need unemployment services in Omaha are angry and confused after an office meant to help people find work relocated unexpectedly. A spokeswoman for the Heartland Workforce Solutions office says the new 57th and Ames location is better for job seekers while others disagree.
The office used to be at 24th and Lake. "I can sit here and watch people go every 15 to 20 minutes around the times they had to come down here for their appointments and walk up to that window and nobody is there,” says Michael Whitner, who works as a chef across the street. He says the office relocating in September has brought business at his restaurant down by 40 percent.
“A lot of people had to come down here every day to look for a job, they had to eat, they had to get their hair cut, they had to get their shopping done down here because this is the area they were in."
He says he isn't the only one. "If you look up and down 24th Street, that building housed a lot of different entities and to me, just to take it away without even having something else in line to take it over was devastating to the businesses down here."
The nonprofit, which specializes in helping people find a job, moved farther west. A spokeswoman told us the new setting is more open, more business-like and allows for more collaboration between the 11 different partners that work out of the office.
"The people down here need the unemployment and the different things they had over there, more than the people up on 57th,” says Whitner. “I mean, down here is where your poverty is at. We need it and the people need it."
Even though office management says services are up because of the move, Whitner still maintains the move is hurting him and other business owners as well as job seekers. Office management says thus far, they've received positive feedback.