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Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
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News Release

ETA News Release: [05/15/2012]
Contact Name: Gloria Della or Clarisse Young
Phone Number: (202) 693-4679 or x5051
Release Number: 12-0936-NEW

US Department of Labor provides grant to assist workers in US Virgin Islands affected by closure of oil refinery owned by territory’s largest employer

WASHINGTON The U.S. Department of Labor today announced a $7,842,250 National Emergency Grant to assist more than 1,200 workers affected by layoffs that resulted from the closure of the Hovensa oil refinery on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hovensa was the largest private employer in the U.S. Virgin Islands and operated one of the largest oil refineries in the Western Hemisphere.

"The Hovensa refinery's closure was a significant blow to many workers as well as the community at large," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The federal funding announced today will provide re-employment services to help individuals impacted by the layoffs find good jobs in high-growth industries."

In February, the refinery ceased all operations, resulting in layoffs of 1,158 workers employed directly by Hovensa and many more employed by 17 of the company's contractors.

"Today's announcement reflects the Labor Department's commitment to address the effects of Hovensa's closure on the St. Croix community and the federal interagency collaboration needed to address the challenges faced by all U.S. territories," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, whose assistant secretary for insular affairs, Tony Babauta, co-chairs with the White House the Interagency Group on Insular Areas. The group is working closely with U.S. Virgin Islands leaders and the St. Croix community to rebuild their economy and develop a sound way forward.

This grant, awarded to the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Labor, will be used to prepare dislocated workers for employment in demand-driven occupations with portable and transferrable credentials.

Of the $7,842,250 announced today, $3,631,937 will be released initially. Additional funding up to the amount approved will be made available as the territory demonstrates a continued need for assistance.

National Emergency Grants are part of the secretary of labor's discretionary fund and are awarded based on the ability of a state or territory to meet specific guidelines. For more information, visit http://www.doleta.gov/NEG/.