About 300 to 400 people undergo vocational training through the MET Center each year. Thousands more take soft skills training or access other employment services there, Seward said. It’s those comprehensive services like financial literacy, legal aid with warrants and tickets, combined with job training that can help change someone’s life, she said.
“If we’re not talking about trying to center and stabilize individuals with these types of services, it’s just a vicious cycle,” Seward said.
She may soon have the chance to play a bigger role at the MET Center. St. Louis County, which has funded the operations of the MET Center for years, withdrew from its role there this summer. Under a new lease, the county will invest $ 500,000 per year in the MET center. The LCRA, which owns the real estate, will inject $ 250,000 towards the costs of major repairs and seek new tenants to rent space with the aim of bringing the MET Center to become more financially self-sufficient. In the meantime, the county and LCRA will seek further federal grants for major repairs.
The Family and Workforce Centers of America, which has around 85 employees across multiple sites, could become the primary tenant or even own the building. Seward is convinced that she can offer more programs and make the MET Center self-sufficient, as she tries to do with her clients. She said she was in talks with the United Auto Workers union, car dealerships and auto repair shops to hold an auto repair training course in an unused industrial space. The program could incorporate electric vehicle maintenance, a skill set that is sure to grow in demand.