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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Jobs program aims to link businesses and Bronxites

By Shant Shahrigian
Posted

Correction appended.

With development booming throughout the borough, state Sen. Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein says Bronxites will get 1,000 new jobs over the next six months.

He made the prediction during a July 9 press conference announcing a new program aimed at helping job seekers find work and develop skills. The senator allocated $200,000 in state funds for the Bronx Chamber of Commerce to develop a website to match people looking for work to openings and to help them find training.

“It’s probably very aggressive, but I think we can create 1,000 new jobs over the next six months,” Mr. Klein said in a Gale Place community room of the Amalgamated Housing Cooperative. “I want to make sure my senate district gets first dibs, but this is a Bronx-wide effort.”

Later this summer, the Bronx Chamber of Commerce is meeting with companies opening stores in the borough — the first step toward building a database of new jobs and learning what skills workers will need.

After that, the chamber will create the website and provide other avenues for Bronxites to find work at locations like a gigantic new Macy’s scheduled to open in the east Bronx later this year. Officials did not announce a timeframe for the website’s launch.

Mr. Klein pointed out the project is launching as Bronx County has the highest unemployment rate in the state, about 10 percent. However, the new initiative, called Help Identify Real Employment, or H.I.R.E., could contribute to a trend of ongoing job growth on the state level, with New York’s Department of Labor reporting 21,300 new jobs added in June — the 18th straight month of growth.

“There are a lot of businesses that understand it’s important to come to the Bronx,” Mr. Klein said. “At the same time, we have to make sure the businesses understand a very simple truth: if you’re going to do business in the Bronx, you have to employ Bronx workers.”

Asked whether H.I.R.E. would pressure businesses to provide good wages, the senator said those could come from the part of the project devoted to helping workers acquire new skills.

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