The award recognizes a private sector employer that is involved with Texas Workforce Solutions and has made a positive impact on workers, the local economy and the community. The award was presented last week at the 21st annual Texas Workforce Conference in Dallas.

Performance Food Group is a food services distributor that employs more than 500 people at its Temple facility. The company was nominated for the award by Workforce Solutions of Central Texas.

“We nominated PFG because of their outstanding support of our workforce system,” said Linda Angel, Workforce Solutions director of transformation and effectiveness. “They go out of their way to help job seekers who wouldn’t necessarily meet all of their requirements. They take a chance on them and get them the jobs they need.”

Angel said PFG has participated in the Workforce Solutions’ Non-Custodial Parent Choice program, which employs parents who are court-ordered to seek employment in order to pay child support.

“They have worked with us by hiring non-custodial parents who needed extra assistance to get the job skills they needed,” Angel said. “When we first started that program, having an employer who was willing to take a chance on a new population like that was really beneficial.”

Chief Operating Officer Ken Cox said PFG assists in programs that help veterans transition into the workforce.

“They are involved with coordinating our career skills program on Fort Hood. They’re coordinating with other industry partners that are providing training opportunities for soldiers and their spouses as the solders are transitioning out of the military,” Cox said.

The company is involved in local public school districts as well. PFG invites career services teachers in through an externship program to keep them up to date on the latest industry standards.

“Numerous times, educators don’t understand what they’re teaching when they direct students to the workforce,” Cox said. “When you do those teacher externships with an industry and see what the industry does, the teachers go back to their classroom with real-world experiences.”

Chris Healy, PFG’s vice president of human resources, said the award is indicative of the strong partnership between the company and Workforce Solutions.

“It was actually a very humbling experience,” Healy said of the recognition. “We work to build the best team that we can build and I leverage the business partnerships I have. For them to come back and say, ‘You’re our employer of the year,’ it was very humbling and I’m honored.”

Angel said having corporate partners such as PFG allows hopeful workers to gain valuable employment experience.

“People with barriers to employment may not have a strong work experience. The advantage of working with Workforce is we have case managers, so we can double-team the inexperienced employees,” Angel said. “The partnership is a good way to get people who are less experienced the work ethic they need to be great employees.”

For Healy, having such partnerships is critical when building a strong business community.

“There is a symbiotic relationship that takes place between the governmental agencies that are there to support businesses and the businesses themselves,” she said. “It’s quite refreshing to see an area where you can have that relationship where everyone is concerned about how we make that economic engine go through getting good employees.”

Staff Writer Jacob Sanchez contributed to this report