MOUNT GILEAD — While state officials reported almost 700,000 unemployment claims submitted in Ohio over the past three weeks, Morrow County officials are working to relieve the jobless situation for county residents.

Eric Uhde is employment specialist for Ohio Means Jobs Morrow County. He talked about the many calls he gets from unemployed in the county who ask how to apply for unemployment.

“There is a continuation of the heavy amount of questions and concerns for Morrow County workers,” Uhde said.

“The big new employment shut down has been American Showa in Sunbury. I have talked to quite a few of those workers who are now applying for unemployment.”

Businesses which are hiring within a 20 mile radius can be seen at Dollar Tree Distribution Center in Marengo is one local business that is now listed as having jobs available on that site. Some jobs listed there were yard driver, equipment operator, operations manager and administrative assistant.

Uhde said that his usual job is helping find employment. However, in the past month he has been concentrating more on unemployment questions. He has been working at Morrow County for eight years and “unemployment inquiries have never been higher.”

Remote help

The Human Services JFS office and Ohio Means Jobs office in Mount Gilead are closed, but Uhde and others are working remotely to serve any way they can in the county. He is currently working closely with about 50 people in the county over the last few weeks to help them navigate the unemployment system or seek jobs.

“I think of myself as a guide for many workers,” Uhde said. He has seen much frustration as some workers have no computer for online access to the state website and call waiting times can be hours and sometimes days long.

Uhde said the process of applying for unemployment by phone has gotten better since the state office increased the number of workers in their call center.

The best website to file an unemployment claim is: it’s available 24 hours, seven days a week. Claimants can call 1-877-962-6562, Monday-Friday, 7-7 Saturday 9-5, and Sunday 9-1. 1-866-962-4064 is for those who have used unemployment before and need a PIN number.

Uhde can be reached for unemployment questions at Ohio Means Jobs Morrow County, 419-949-2670.

Small business aid

Andy Ware, Director of Morrow County Economic Development office has dedicated much of his time recently to making sure that small businesses in the county have access to information about the federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Program.

Ware partnered with the Morrow County Chamber of Commerce and several local banks to inform businesses and individuals about SBA grants and loans available. There were 33 present at a Zoom virtual meeting last Friday, dealing with SBA loans and grants.

Four local banks will be working with residents to file loan applications for the Payroll Protection Program loans. Those banks are: First Knox with Ed Kline and Brandon Hayes in Mount Gilead, FC Bank in Cardington with Annette Lester or Kate Miller and US Bank in Marengo with Erin Kelty.

Chase Bank is providing services only online at httpps://

The PPP loan is fully forgiven if 75 percent is used for payroll and the remaining 25 percent for rent, utilities and other necessities of the business.

There is also a Coronavirus Economic Disaster Injury Program available that businesses apply for online directly to the government. Ware said they streamlined that loan just this week, so that applicants fill out just one form online.

Both loans are forgivable if less than $10,000 is applied for and if guidelines are followed after the coronavirus crisis is over. No collateral is needed for a loan less than $25,000.

Ware said the banks have been flooded with requests for filing for the PPP loan. He welcomes questions about either loan at 419-947-7535.

“Persistence and patience” are the watchwords for both Uhde and Ware as they work with residents to navigate situations of business shutdown and unemployment during the coronavirus crisis.

By Alberta Stojkovic

The Sentinel