Sunday, October 14, 2007

How business must benefit community

Posted by Sujata Shyam: Part of building a neighborhood is developing the workforce the neighborhood. Residents who don't have steady employment are far more likely to be impoverished and to spend more time engaging in destructive activities. Social enterprises are finding ways to collaborate with other community stakeholders to match their own employment needs with residents who want jobs. This is a sensitive issue because residents generally believe that if businesses are moving into a given neighborhood, particularly one that is struggling, the business has a degree of responsibility to give back to the community by employing residents. I am lucky enough to be privy to this conversation in East Liberty, the neighborhood I've written about previously. East Liberty is in the process of developing a new community plan. The last community plan, an aligned vision of East Liberty stakeholders, was published in 1999, and is currently about 70% complete (according to ELDI, a major community development corporation (CDC) which is organizing the effort to create a new plan.) To create the plan, there are 8 task forces which will meet three times. The Pittsburgh Coro Fellows are serving as facilitators of these meetings, and I am facilitating the Workforce Development Task Force. The first set of meetings addresses problems regarding the task force topic, the second addresses solutions, and the third defines specific action steps and documents those who are taking responsibility for specific items. After all 24 meetings have been completed, the notes are compiled to create the new community plan. The three main points that came out of the first workforce development task force are the following:
1-Employers want to hire from the neighborhood, but they are having a hard time finding suitable candidates.
2-Potential workers want jobs that allow for upward mobility- not dead end jobs
3-Workforce development agencies ought to allow people to return to them for guidance over time, so that workers are supported in moving up from lower level jobs.
I'll let you know how the process is progressing at the end of October after meeting two.here is ELDI's website http://www.eastliberty.org/ Here is the website for the last community plan:http://www.eastlibertypost.com/sitedocs/community_vision.pdf