(Jan. 29) – After two Pueblo companies announced that they are laying off about 450 employees, Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, said she will redouble her efforts to bring good jobs to the city.

“Pueblo is tough, and we’ll get through this,” Rep. Esgar said. “But there’s no denying that this is a setback for our community. My heart goes out to the families of those impacted. But make no mistake — Pueblo is open for business. More than ever, my job in Denver will be to make sure Pueblo has a seat at the table for the state’s economic development efforts.”

Evraz North America, operators of the former CF&I/Rocky Mountain Steel mill that was the heart of Pueblo’s economy for decades, announced on Wednesday that it is laying off 200 of its 1,200 employees. IQor, which operates a call center in Pueblo, said earlier that it is permanently laying off 250 employees, approximately a third of those who work at the call center.

Before the legislative session began in early January, Rep. Esgar started working with Majority Leader Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, on a bill expanding an unemployment insurance program adopted in 2012. Participants in the program receive an enhanced unemployment insurance benefit if they receive training with a Colorado company, and participating companies benefit because they don’t need to pay training costs.

The bill is part of the workforce development package House Democrats will be rolling out over the next several weeks.

“This bill will be a win-win for business and the unemployed,” Rep. Esgar said. “This bill, and others we’ll be seeing soon, will help us deal with this week’s economic setbacks and boost the economic security of Colorado’s middle class.”

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