Job Fairs, One Year Later

Some held babies, some an older child, and others clenched coats, hats, gloves and purses; a few people, including me, stood against the walls. Most took notes and were hopeful about finding work with the bridge replacement project.

Hoping to hear about work during job fair at Greenburgh Public Library/Courtesy of New NY Bridge

Hoping to hear about work during job fair at Greenburgh Public Library/Courtesy of New NY Bridge

Braving frigid temps, hundreds of people — from Rockland, Westchester, and some from New Jersey, Orange and Dutchess Counties — crammed the room last February, waiting to learn how and when to apply for badly-needed work. They heard the hiring process begins at a job portal at Tappan Zee Constructors, LLC. Three subsequent job fairs were held to jump-start businesses’ hiring; the Thruway Authority said it would begin to fill anticipated openings at a later date.

The project would bring thousands of jobs to the region, and at least 10 percent of the contracts will go to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) — businesses whose owners who are considered socially or economically disadvantaged. About 2,600 full-time construction workers will work on the project each year for its duration.

Note: More than 30 subcontracting agreements with DBE firms were signed to date; the five-year project goal aims to award $314 million to DBE firms.

Support positions for the project would be posted on the NYS Department of Labor website, and the New York State Job Bank would be the main source for all direct and indirect opportunities. The DOL said recently it would begin hiring in summer 2014 — an eternity later for some at last winter’s job fair.

Fast forward to last month, when Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the project created nearly 600 jobs so far, and that 500 businesses, including contractors, consultants and suppliers, have benefited from the project, per a press release. Two-hundred twenty of the 500 firms are within 60 miles of the project, and 70 are within a 15-minute drive.

Congratulations to the new hires; that’s great news! Where specifically are these new jobs, and in which specific industries?

When Westchester-Rockland Tappan Zee Futures Task Force talks stalled two years ago, member Ross Pepe said building now (at the time) means 5,000 potential jobs that would positively impact the construction, food, insurance, hotel and real estate industries. Which of these benefitted from the newly-created jobs?

I’d like to know what you think.

Copyright © Janie Rosman and Kaleidoscope Eyes 2013

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