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Erica Romero, business relations manager for the Pikes Peak Workforce Center, doesn’t give herself enough credit for the above-and-beyond service she provided to local government agencies and businesses amid COVID pandemic challenges.

All she did was organize a statewide, virtual job fair in February 2021 at the request of the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment and Gov. Jared Polis, on just 10 days advance notice. The event hosted more than 300 employers and 7,860 job seekers, and created a job fair model that has since been adopted by several other workforce centers in Colorado, and the CDLE, to use on their own.

No big deal.

And at the beginning of the pandemic, when public health agencies were scrambling to determine how to keep their communities safe, Romero and her team of job coaches screened, interviewed, placed and paid temporary workers as temperature checkers and contract tracers for the El Paso County Public Health and UCCS, said Becca Tonn, communications manager for PPWFC. 

The team reviewed 563 résumés and ultimately staffed the county’s entire contact tracing team, Romero said.

“I was just doing my job,” she said. “If I see a need, I want to help.”

When the state ultimately purchased Premier Virtual, the online platform Romero used to put together the job fair, they presented an overview for other American Job Centers in Colorado during a video conference and thanked Romero for her work. 

“I get really uncomfortable with recognition,” Romero said. “I remember I had to shut my camera off because to me, I was just doing my job. But then when people are like, ‘Can you believe that you did this?’ … I’m like, ‘Oh, I guess it was a lot.’”

Romero took the time to counsel her counterparts at other workforce centers, including those in Pueblo and Larimer counties, on how to run their own county job fairs using Premier Virtual — which she admits was well outside of her job description. 

She explained that above all else, her goal is to get Coloradans employed effectively and to ease the hiring process for the state’s businesses. Close collaboration and establishing a “best practice” with centers across the state is an essential piece.

“I want everything to equate into employment,” she said.

Tonn said that Romero, who started in the business relations manager role just one week before the pandemic began, is “tireless” in her work. She’s become a go-to resource for businesses and organizations in the Pikes Peak region when they need something done “quickly and done with professionalism and innovation,” Tonn wrote.

Romero knows it can sometimes be agonizing to work with government agencies for hiring services, or any services — the PPWFC, after all, is mostly funded by the U.S. Department of Labor and runs several of its programs using public grants. But Romero strives to expedite slow or tedious processes and paperwork to quickly help job seekers and companies.

“I don’t like to move at the speed of government, I want to move at the speed of businesses,” Romero said. “Our actual team motto is, we try to ‘make red tape into streamers.’”