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County Council approves members of advisory board for Economic Opportunity and Empowerment Program


Board will stimulate efforts to recruit workers and provide jobs in economically disadvantaged communities throughout King County


The Metropolitan King County Council today unanimously approved the members of the panel charged with ensuring that economic opportunities created by the construction of the county’s new Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC) are available to the most disadvantaged in our community.

The Empowerment Program will help ensure diversity in the project workforce, by identifying effective strategies to achieve the contract's goals for hiring and training veterans, women, people of color, and youth, and for employing small contractors and suppliers.

The King County Economic Opportunity and Empowerment Program Advisory Board is part of a new approach to recruiting and hiring workers from traditionally disadvantaged communities. Commonly referred to as targeted local hire, the board will prepare a strategy for hiring individuals from the parts of King County specifically identified as having greater numbers of veterans, women, people of color, and youth in need of employment.

The legislation creating the Empowerment Program was unanimously adopted by the County Council in February. Today’s appointments are a crucial step in implementing this first-of-its-kind legislation for King County.

“As I’ve made clear throughout my time on the Council, I am committed to leveraging all resources of this powerful government to combat poverty in King County,” said Councilmember Rod Dembowski, the sponsor of the Empowerment Program ordinance. “What’s so exciting about this program is that it will teach youth, veterans, people of color, and women the trade skills necessary to obtain family-wage jobs. I have great confidence in the panel members, and look forward to seeing their plan in action.”

On August 7, 2012, King County voters approved a nine-year property tax levy-lid lift to finance the project to replace the current Youth Services Center. These capital funds can only be used for the construction of the Children and Family Justice Center. The revenue to support this $1 million Economic Opportunity and Empowerment Program is anticipated to come from levy proceeds beyond the originally estimated amounts.

While unemployment in King County has dropped significantly in recent years, there are many communities that have not benefitted from the region’s growing economy. Unemployment remains high among veterans, young adults, and communities of color. The board members will bring their expertise to the development and implementation of the plan to provide employment and business opportunities in the construction of the $210 million facility.

“Economic opportunity is the first step in ensuring that people of color will not need to use the facilities that will be part of the CFJC,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett. “The advisory board is a positive move toward providing underserved communities the chance to get the skills and business that will help them and the communities they live in.”

The members of the advisory board will advise and assist a project administrator appointed by the Executive to develop a plan, due at least 90 days prior to the County’s issuance of the notice to proceed with construction, to achieve or exceed the hiring and training goals for apprentices and the utilization goals for small contracting and suppliers for the CFJC project.

The advisory board will include representatives from the building trades, construction industry, labor, coalition and community organizations, and pre-apprenticeship training providers. The panel members include:

• Michael J. Fox—Retired Superior Court judge with considerable experience representing the United Construction Workers Association and its members to implement court decrees governing admission to apprenticeship program, training and work opportunities for apprentices and journey level workers; fair treatment in the hiring halls, and other issues relating to promoting equal opportunity for minority and women construction workers.

“Everyone seems to agree that one of our most difficult problems in building a cohesive, prosperous, and pluralistic community is the increasing economic inequality that we have in King County and across the country,” said Fox. “Work in the skilled construction trades provides great training, high wages, and the acquisition of skills that will provide a young person with lifetime economic security, and opportunities to advance to supervisory positions and construction management. In my 18 years of work with the United Construction Workers Association, I saw hundreds of young people from low income families gain not only good steady jobs, but personal dignity and knowledge that they were important members of the community. There's nothing like walking by a well-constructed building and thinking ’I helped build that!’”

• Mayor Leanne Guier— Business Development Specialist for the Washington State Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters. Guier is a graduate of a 5-year steamfitter apprenticeship program who has experience working in the building trades. Guier also has serves as Mayor of Pacific since 2013.

“I look forward to working with the members of this panel and being apart a program that will enhance the opportunities for women, people of color, veterans, and economically challenged members of various communities here in King County,” said Mayor Guier.

• Amir Islam— Is a Board member of the Squire Park Community Council, where the CFJC will be located. Islam has worked for the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, and the City of Seattle's - Seattle Youth Violence Initiative as a gang intervention and prevention specialist, and Outreach Coordinator, and helped assist the design team with the design for parts of its process. Islam also worked simultaneously with World Vision as a youth advocate/trainer of the Youth Empowerment Program (Y.E.P.). Amir has a history of services in the community as a community organizer, activist, and advocate.

“In terms of unemployment, training apprenticeship's and sustainable employment opportunities - minority groups face a steeper uphill climb to financial stability,” said Islam. “Various kinds of racial, gender, and economic disparities wage war among us daily hindering our progress. We must use a myriad of resources, and apply them to the strengthening of our communities, fighting together to effectively diminish such inequalities. We Americans are family – each member of our family despite race, gender, or class deserves access to equal resources that will equip them to become empowered enough to fully participate in our democracy. I will serve on this initiative diligently, and in my doing so I will also stand firm in my actions by holding myself, and others involved in this process accountable. For it is our aim to achieve the goal of providing economic equality, and sustainability in our beloved county.”

• Eugene Hardin III - Minority Business Owner. Hardin, who operates Quality Woodworking and Construction, has vast experience working with Youth Build and has taught deconstruction classes at the Georgetown campus of Seattle Central College. Hardin has recruited minority firms, women and veterans thru his hiring practices QWC holds certifications with OMWBE,NAMC,8A,SCS,NKBA and section 3.

• Fernando Martinez—President and Chief Executive Officer for the Northwest Mountain Minority Supplier Development Council. Martinez’s work helps to build the capabilities and skill sets of minority businesses and to assist them to strategically purse business opportunities.

• Heather Worthley— Executive Director for Port Jobs. Worthley has more than 20 years of experience administering apprentice utilization policies and in connecting women and people of color to opportunities in construction-related apprenticeships.

• Allan Yeung—A resident of Squire Park, Yeung is a minority business owner and a King County certified small contractor who is familiar with the public contracting process.

• Lisa Bogardus— Assistant Executive Secretary for the Seattle King County Building and Construction Trades Labor Council. Bogardus has worked closely with other governments to address access to training opportunities through pre-apprenticeship programs for people and communities that have been historically disadvantaged.

• Sarah Chavez— Director of Youth Initiatives for the Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County. The Workforce Development Council addresses chronic unemployment and underemployment in the youth population and efforts to identify strategies that will help to address the issues that are associated with the adverse social consequences of these conditions.

Two additional advisory members have been appointed, and are set to be confirmed by the Council on May 26. They are:

• Carl Gasca – A member and officer of the Teamsters Local 174 Executive Board.

• Sean Bagsby – President of IBEW Local 46.

Members of the advisory board will serve staggered three-year terms. The board is expected to start meeting this summer.

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