LOCAL JOBS FOR RESIDENTS TARGETED BY NEW CITY PARTNERSHIP WITH WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT AGENCY

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City of Somerville seeks to partner with an agency that will connect local workers first with local jobs, serving as first contact for employers looking to hire local residents
Somerville employers looking to hire and will promote all opportunities for residents to have first access to local jobs.

Although Somerville’s unemployment rate is consistently 1 to 2 percent lower than the state unemployment rate, most residents work outside the city, with 45,000 workers living in the city today but only 20,000 jobs located in the city. But that tide is beginning to turn. With the coming arrival of the Green Line Extension, a wave of commercial development underway in Assembly Square and the future commercial expansion of Union Square, Somerville is moving toward the community’s goal of creating 30,000 new jobs in the city by 2030, as set forth in the 20-year comprehensive SomerVision plan. Beyond creating new jobs, existing commercial development has already paid great dividends in the form of a lower tax rate in fiscal year 2014 and an unprecedented shift in the tax burden from residential to commercial property owners.
Still, only 16 percent of Somerville residents work in the city today. The City is adopting a strategy to ensure that Somerville residents can take advantage of the new employment opportunities created by city’s growth, allowing them to work near where they live, reduce their commuting costs and spend more time with their families.
a problem identified by the Somerville Jobs Advisory Committee established by Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone.

The agency must also prepare residents for new jobs coming to Somerville by providing workforce development training that equips Somerville residents with the skills they need to take advantage of these new opportunities. Somerville businesses will also be empowered to find qualified employees with roots in the community, as the agency will serve as the primary contact for Somerville employers looking to hire locally.

“Our core value is making Somerville an exceptional place to live, work, play and raise a family, and making that a reality for all our residents begins with ‘work’—having a decent job makes living here, playing here and raising a family all possible,” said Mayor Curtatone. “We need to give local workers every advantage that we can, so that as Somerville grows, so do our residents in the workforce. We started with the Jobs Advisory Committee that identified the barriers our residents face in finding employment near their homes, and this proposed partnership directly addresses the recommendations made by that committee. Local jobs for local residents mean a better quality of life for our residents, saving time and money, and improving personal health and public health, and bringing new employers to the City diminishes the tax burden on residents while increasing the resources needed to maintain and improve city services.”

The agency will agree to a performance-based two-year contract worth a maximum of $100,000, according to the request for proposals (RFP) that the City released this week, with a maximum of $50,000 paid to the agency each year. The City will hold the agency accountable for its performance by agreeing on proposed benchmarks—including number of residents served, successful job placements, workforce training sessions offered and frequency of public outreach—and a schedule for meeting those benchmarks. In the first year of the contract, 20 percent of the funds will be linked to meeting those benchmarks, rising to 50 percent and in the second year of the contract.

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