PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — When Digital Domain unexpectedly laid off 280 workers Friday, the Treasure Coast Food Bank mobilized as if it was an "unnatural disaster," the executive director said.
Judy Cruz described the massive job loss — the biggest in recent history, St. Lucie County officials say — as a "crisis" that prompted her and her staff to quickly gather up resources and work with community partners as if they were dealing with the wrath of Mother Nature.
Less than a week after the "storm," the Food Bank, Workforce Solutions and other community groups are staging a "Layoff Outreach" event Thursday, where they'll provide information on unemployment benefits, job search assistance and other resources. The event will have two sessions — 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. — at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center at 2195 S.E. Airoso Blvd.
"This week is the week of assessment," Cruz said. "After Thursday, we'll have a better grasp of exactly what everybody's needs are and we're hoping between those two sessions, everyone will be there and then we'll really be able to lay out our blueprint of how we're going to move forward."
Odaly Victorio, communications coordinator at Workforce Solutions, said there will also be community partners at Thursday's event to assist former Digital Domain employees with questions regarding finances, real estate, insurance and community resources.
"There will be someone there from the Department of Children and (Families)," Victorio said. "There are some people who may need to apply for assistance, whether it be food stamps or some cash assistance. There are people in a pretty precarious situation right now because their whole life was turned upside down."
Cruz said the food bank will have a mobile pantry at the event and will bring emergency food boxes and nonessential items, too.
"Friday they went to work. For no fault of their own, by 12 o'clock (they) did not have a job. Obviously it left many, many people in a situation they weren't expecting," Cruz said. "They didn't receive their paycheck on Friday, which was their normal payday. They didn't receive those revenues and there was no severance package given, so really a lot of them have no resources."
Getting information out to the employees is crucial and is a role the St. Lucie County Chamber of Commerce is trying to help facilitate, according to Linda Cox, president and chief executive officer.
"We're sharing as much information as we possibly can," Cox said. "We have a lot of businesses in the area that are reaching out and are trying to help them."
Cox said the chamber uses its Facebook page, Facebook.com/SLCChamber, to post regular updates.
For instance, representatives with Blue Sky Studios, a Greenwich, Conn., animation studio, were in Port St. Lucie earlier this week and hosted a resume drop-off at the Hilton Garden Inn in Port St. Lucie, There, they collected resumes and interviewed former Digital Domain employees, according to a posting on the chamber's Facebook page.
Some former Digital Domain employees might be in luck for a job in the digital media industry — although they could have to leave the Treasure Coast.
Digital media technology company Legend3D Inc., based in San Diego, is encouraging former Digital Domain employees to apply. The company is looking to hire 150 to 250 employees by the end of 2012. According to Legend3D spokesperson Pascale Marchard, the company has become the largest provider in the nascent 2D-3D conversion industry in the world.
"There are definitely excellent jobs available for the talented people that were laid off from Digital Domain," Marchard said in a statement provided to WPTV NewsChannel 5.
News partner, WPTV NewsChannel 5, contributed to this report.
MORE RESOURCES FOR FORMER DIGITAL DOMAIN EMPLOYEES
IF YOU GO TO THURSDAY'S EVENT
What: Layoff Outreach event for affected Digital Domain employees
When: 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. Thursday
Where: Port St. Lucie Community Center, 2195 S.E. Airoso Blvd., Port St. Lucie
Contact: yourworkforcesolutions.com or 772-335-3030
FOOD BANK HOTLINE
The Treasure Coast Food Bank has set up a hotline to help former Digital Domain employees, which will be staffed weekdays from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and will offer people information on emergency and long-term assistance. Anyone needing help can call the hotline at 772-971-0391.
Get more information on the Treasure Coast Food Bank at 772-489-3034 or stophunger.org.
CALIFORNIA COMPANY HIRING
Digital media technology company Legend3D Inc., is looking to hire 150 to 250 employees by the end of 2012 and is encouraging former Digital Domain employees to apply. To apply, visit Legend 3D's careers website www.legend3d.com/careers , or for more information call Legend 3D's HR at 858-793-4420, ext. 125.