E.A.R.N Is Driving Local People Towards Financial Stability

Stephenson County, Illinois – Earlier this summer, the United Way of Northwest Illinois, in cooperation with Berner Food and Beverage launched a transportation initiative aimed at helping current employees and attracting new employees to access work related transportation in Stephenson County. The E.A.R.N. Initiative (Employment Access Ridership Network) is one of the solutions that came from the 2015 survey that identified transportation as a barrier preventing individuals from obtaining and retaining employment. The need for work related transportation is only going to be increasing as Berner Food and Beverage recently broke ground on a large expansion to their current facility. This expansion will create additional jobs, but both the United Way and Berner Food and Beverage realize that the rural nature of their location, can pose a challenge for current and potential employees when it comes to getting to and from work.

The United Way of Northwest Illinois focuses on improving quality of life in three major areas; Education, Income (Financial Stability), and Health. The United Way believes that job opportunities and job retention is a cornerstone to financial stability and is therefore committed to reducing barriers facing individuals from obtaining and retaining employment.

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with Berner Food and Beverage, as they have been committed to finding solutions related to employment barriers in our local community. Jody Gowin, Director of Human Resources, has been instrumental in the survey development, data collection, and developing solutions to this and other barriers facing our current workforce. The United Way model embraces companies like, Berner Food and Beverage that are invested in helping develop collaborative solutions to improve opportunities for all in our local community.” shares United Way Executive Director, Tiffany Nieman.

The United Way will contract with the Pretzel City Transit to provide the transportation service. This service contract will also show increased need and local match funds that will potentially generate additional federal funds to further support the transportation services already provided by Pretzel City Transit. This is just one additional benefit of this exciting collaboration.

There will be a ribbon cutting of the E.A.R.N. Initiative on September 27th at 6:15 p.m. at 915 S. Adams Ave. in Freeport, IL.

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