WILKES-BARRE – Fifteen years ago, the owner of the Career Link building on East Union Street added a second floor to accommodate the increased needs of staffers and those who used its services. Now, as technology has advanced and state funding has been cut, the organization is back to using only the first floor while the second floor has been listed for lease.
A sign touting 9,000 square feet of space for lease sits in front of the 32 E. Union St. building and directing those interested to call broker Steve Barrouk at Mericle Commercial Real Estate. Barrouk said the second floor is modern, includes a kitchenette and can be subdivided into two 4,500-square-foot units.
While local unemployment rates are over 9 percent – and the highest in the state for two years – Career Link's services have been relied upon heavily. Director Christine Jensen said weekly visits this year compared to last are up 14 percent, but thanks to the Internet and mobile phones, job listings can be accessed online, making visits to the office unnecessary.
The state, strapped for cash and realizing the role technology can play in assisting job seekers, has targeted Career Link offices as places to scale back, at least when it comes to real estate costs, Barrouk said.
"They're running things more efficiently than they used to," Barrouk, who used to be the head of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce, noted.
Any one who sees the ‘For Lease' sign should not worry that Career Link is leaving.
"Career Link is not going anywhere," said Jensen.
The building is owned by Harkins Realty Inc., of Forty Fort. Jerry Novak, accountant for Harkins Realty, said when it was built in the 1950s, it was built specifically for a job center, and Career Link and its successors have been the only occupants since it opened.
Novak said "times change, the advent of the Internet has changed things." He and Barrouk both said that ideally they'd like to see companies or agencies lease the second floor that have a symbiotic relationship with Career Link's mission, such as educators, personnel agencies or growing companies that may be looking to hire.