The Oshkosh area has qualified for federal aid to help deal with the layoffs of at least 950 people this year at military vehicle maker Oshkosh Corp.
Since the number of layoffs exceeded 1 percent of the city's total workforce, the region qualified for economic assistance from the U.S. Department of Defense.
The funding will range between $750,000 and $1 million spread out over several years, Oshkosh Northwestern Media reported Monday.
The layoffs were the result of 30 percent decline in demand for the military vehicles Oshkosh Corp. produces.
The economic assistance program has helped communities deal with ending military programs, the closure of military bases and significant Department of Defense cuts. But Oshkosh City Manager Mark Rohloff said he had no idea the region qualified for assistance until OEA officials contacted him last month.
"We were caught completely by surprise," Rohloff said.
He said the program is designed not to work with employers like Oshkosh, but the community and region affected by the business.
"They want to make sure their defense contractors have a supply of workers and suppliers to get the engine moving again," Rohloff said. "They recognize that you can't just flip the switch on and off."
The East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission has taken the lead on gathering ideas about how best to use the funds from regional partners that range from municipal governments to Fox Valley Technical College to Chamco, the city's industrial development arm.
The regional planning commission hasn't decided what programs to submit for funding yet, Rohloff said.