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Gaston, Rowan in 'rapid response' mode

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Although the cuts won't happen until March 13, Gaston and Rowan Counties are now in what officials are calling "rapid response" mode. That's when local and state government, the community college and the regional chamber of commerce come together to help laid off employees. Services they offer include continuing education, retraining and managing unemployment benefits. Gaston Workforce Development head Rebecca Lamphier says the county will likely tap an existing resource. "We actually have received what is called a national emergency grant to deal with the earlier layoffs. That was over $1M just for people impacted in Gaston County. We do have that money at hand. Certainly we continue to use that money for these individuals coming up at this next round." In October, Freightliner laid off about 600 workers there. Freightliner says this latest round will practically idle the Mount Holly plant. The Centralina Workforce Development Board's executive director says in Rowan county, laid off Freightliner workers have typically been slow to take advantage of help. David Hollars says it's because in the past Freightliner has been able to recall let-go employees. "I think overall with the economy and the way the demand for trucks right now is, I don't see that happening. And if it does, it may be not in this country." These days, collaborating agencies are placing a strong emphasis on out of work people getting additional training and enhancing existing skills.