ESCANABA - Delta County's Michigan Department of Human Services office, located in Escanaba, will be moving to a new location later this week.
According to Dave Akerly, director of marketing and public relations for the Michigan DHS, the office will move from its current location on College Avenue to the State Office Building on Ludington Street.
The office's last day of business at the College Avenue location will be Thursday, with DHS services not available Friday due to the office completing its move during the day and weekend. The office will reopen Monday morning, July 2, at its new State Office Building location.
Akerly said the reason for the move is due to a mixture of economics and the department's new business model for delivering "exceptional service."
"The new office space is significantly smaller than the one we are vacating at the county building," said Akerly. "They are also about $2 per square foot less per year. We were occupying 13,000 plus square feet of space at the county building at an annual cost of more than $213,000."
He added that the department will not be charged for the first year after the move, as the Department of Technology, Management & Budget will cover the cost.
The move means several services will be housed in the same building, including the following state departments: human services, treasury, secretary of state, and licensing and regulatory affairs.
"Overall, this will provide significant savings to the taxpayers of Michigan, and it also brings together many key state services together under one roof, which means less guess work for our clients, wondering which agencies are where," explained Akerly.
The move also fits with DHS' new model of high value customer service. DHS utilizes a mobile workforce on the child welfare side of services, spending work days engaging clients in the field, rather than staying behind an office desk.
"Under the new concept, a number of workers can share their minimal desk hours and use one workspace, without crossing paths," he said, which will be practiced wherever it is practical across the state.
Akerly said a few Licensing and Regulatory Affairs employees will also make the move to the State Office Building, but that is it.
The current county-owned building DHS is vacating houses Michigan State University Extension, Pathways Community Mental Health, and Public Health - Delta & Menominee Counties.
At a joint Delta County Board of Commissioners and Escanaba City Council meeting last October, the State Office Building property was discussed as the county was looking into potentially purchasing the property from the state. In the past, it had been discussed as a potential site for relocating the county jail in the distant future - approximately 20 years from now. However, at the meeting it was brought up that there might be little hope of relinquishing the sale of the building to the county, since the state budget director had felt the building was valuable to the state.