The Christie Administration has announced three New Jersey higher education institutions have been chosen to lead new Talent Networks designed by the Department of Labor and Workforce Development to bolster the ongoing Superstorm Sandy recovery process. 

(L-R) Michael Angelo Forcella, Director Recovery New Jersey Talent Network Grant, Ocean County College and Harold J. Wirths, Commissioner New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (Kerri H. Gatling)

Ocean County College will lead the Recovery New Jersey Talent Network, while the leadership of the Retail, Hospitality and Tourism Talent Network will be shared between Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU) in North Jersey and the Richard Stockton College in South Jersey.

Ocean County College (OCC) has been awarded a $250,000 Recovery New Jersey (RNJ) Talent Network Grant.  The grant was awarded to run from April 1, 2013 to June 2014. As the lead agency and grant administrator, Ocean County College is strategically located within the state to act as a central hub to provide access to the businesses and jobseekers displaced from those areas most impacted by the storm. As a community college, OCC's mission is to reach out to members of the community to help train jobseekers and ultimately assist those workers to get hired.

"This much needed grant will allow OCC to reach out to our community, not only right here in Ocean County, but throughout every region of the state affected by the storm," said Patricia Fenn, OCC Executive Director of e-Learning and Continuing & Professional Education. Ms. Fenn's department will be overseeing the grant. Superstorm Sandy has had a significant impact on the economy of many communities throughout New Jersey, especially Ocean County. From small "Mom and Pop" establishments to the "big box" stores, some businesses were forced to close temporarily, others permanently, and thus many New Jersey residents lost their jobs. Some of these jobs may never be reinstated, and these jobseekers will need to be offered retraining opportunities in new areas of work resulting from the recovery effort.

Project Manager Michael Angelo Forcella says "to ultimately recover from Superstorm Sandy, the economic and workforce priorities must be established and centralized through the implementation of a statewide communication network that includes dissemination methods such as webinars, websites, social media blogs, seminars, and other outreach events. The RNJ Talent Network will serve as the primary workforce contact for the revitalization efforts needed to recover from Superstorm Sandy, helping to connect employers and jobseekers in communities most affected by the storm.

If you are a business owner or job seeker affected by Hurricane Sandy and would like more information on the Recovery New Jersey Talent Network, contact Forcella at 732-255-0400 , ext. 2157, or