Jobs Agency Reports Progress Since Building Collapse

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As the roof collapsed, popping the front door open and causing the front wall of the building to give way, Capital Area Michgan WORKS! CEO Douglas Stites got a phone call.

"I'm thinking, a shingle fell off. But she said it sounded serious enough, you probably ought to think about going down there," Stites said in an interview earlier this week.

Going down to the then four-year-old headquarters, only to see the collapsed roof and the commotion surrounding it.

"It was blocked off, fire engines, ambulances ... At that point, it was evident to me it was more than a shingle," Stites said.

The seriousness of the damage was clear to marketing and public relations director Kate Tykocki as well.

"Obviously we can't go in there, so what can we do now?" Tykocki recalled thinking in an interview Thursday.

Within a few days, the agency set up shop to serve the unemployed -- opening up a full service center next door in about a month.

Now, it's back at the old site.

"We're real pleased," Stites said, giving a reporter a tour of the building.

Pleased with the renovated facility and the new second story built with it.

"We have more staff and program in the building now than we did before the collapse," Stites said.

He says staffers often find clients waiting to come in as the doors are opened for the day.

"We have the capacity to serve more people and those people are coming," Tykocki said.

Those who come to use the center have access to new equipment: Equipment paid for, Stites says, in full by the agency's insurance company. But what about finding a cause for the collapse?

"No one ever has and I suspect probably never will," he said.

The building repairs were paid for out of pocket by building's owner -- the Eyde Company. A company representative says Eyde continues to seek reimbursement from its insurance company.

While that dispute plays out, Stites is steering an agency he says is stronger than it was before the collapse.

"We think ... out of the ashes rose a better service to the community," he said.