“As a coalition of 150 organizations who deeply understand the pervasive negative consequences that unemployment and inadequate access to the growing economy have on hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, we look forward to working through the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) process to ensure that any final iteration of this deal is centered on equity and access to the local community,” said Joey Ortiz.
“We will settle for nothing less than a robust final plan and the necessary investments that ensure that current New Yorkers, especially those that have been historically marginalized from living-wage careers and stand to be displaced by this project, are trained and hired for the tech and non-tech jobs created by Amazon. The Coalition’s role in the CAC will provide an opportunity for the City, State and Amazon to hear from our varied community of job and training service providers, program participants and New York residents to ensure that their voice is elevated in CAC conversations and their needs are met in this deal.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday the formation of a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to share information and solicit ongoing community input about Amazon’s planned headquarters project in Long Island City, Queens. Members of the CAC will work through three subcommittees – Project Plan Subcommittee, Neighborhood Infrastructure Subcommittee, and Workforce Development Subcommittee – to develop plans for the headquarters and onsite public amenities, investments in neighborhood infrastructure to benefit the surrounding communities, and training and hiring programs to ensure that homegrown talent fills the 25,000 to 40,000 new jobs at the headquarters.
The CAC is comprised of community and citywide stakeholders recommended by local elected officials, including NYCETC Executive Director Joey Ortiz and individuals representing Coalition members LaGuardia Community College, Urban Upbound, Per Scholas, The City University of New York, 1199SEIU Training and Employment Funds, The Fortune Society, and Sunnyside Community Services.
The Workforce Development Subcommittee will be co-chaired by Bishop Mitchell G. Taylor of Urban Upbound, Gail Mellow of LaGuardia Community College and Jean Woods-Powell of Information Technology High School. According to the press release, the subcommittee’s stated purpose is to “develop an education-to-career workforce strategy to ensure that New Yorkers of all backgrounds have the skills and training to access the 25,000 to 40,000 jobs Amazon is bringing to New York City. The company, State and City are committing $15 million – $5 million each – to create new workforce development programs focused on technology training and recruitment specific to New York City and targeted toward underrepresented segments of the workforce. Programs supported by this initiative may include community-based accelerated technology training programs, internships, and work-based learning opportunities for high school students.”
For more information, read the full press release and our November 14 statement in response to the Amazon deal announcement below.
Nov. 14 NYCETC Statement on Amazon Deal
Dear NYCETC Community,
With excitement and concern running high today throughout the city, the NYC Employment and Training Coalition and its members insist that an equity-centric approach that prioritizes the development of a local talent pipeline of current New Yorkers from marginalized communities be woven into the fabric of the agreement between New York City and Amazon.
The news this week of what Mayor de Blasio has described as “the largest economic development deal in NYC history,” is exciting and potentially historic for the city’s business ecosystem. In many ways, this validates New York City’s dream of becoming a true technology ecosystem, one that rivals any other region in the nation. However, it must be met with some apprehension as we know from experience that this does not come without potential consequence. Marginalized communities across the city and in the public housing near this development may be left to wonder whether they will have a real opportunity to benefit from these new jobs or once again see career opportunities stay tantalizingly beyond reach.
NYCETC, including our more than 150 members, stand ready to partner with city and state administrations and Amazon to grow a talent pipeline of everyday New Yorkers for the jobs to come. During the cultivation process, the city consulted a number of our members and other technology focused training programs on the potential benefits of an Amazon Headquarters in New York. Consulting the provider community was a step in the right direction and for this we applaud our partners at the city, including the New York City Economic Development Corporation.
However, in order for Amazon’s central promise of thousands of middle-income jobs for current New Yorkers to become a reality, it will require deep collaboration with the City, local residents, training organizations, and Amazon’s leadership. Collaboration must be actively centered around economic equity and access to viable career pathways for marginalized communities, including New Yorkers who reside in public housing or are homeless, have low literacy levels or lack a highschool diploma, who are justice-involved or have disabilities, and countless other New Yorkers. Collaboration provides a unique opportunity for Amazon to be an industry leader in diversifying NYC’s tech and business ecosystem. By working with community partners, Amazon can ensure that local residents at all skill levels are given the training and job placement opportunities to fit into Amazon’s future workforce.
Let’s keep in mind that the root problem here is not Amazon or business for that matter. More jobs equal an increased “potential” for families to become self-sufficient and provide better experiences for themselves, their families, and their communities. However, for this “potential” to become a reality, it will require political will to focus on low-income marginalized communities, and those New Yorkers who may face steep learning curves. Progressive politics must be centered around equity — an equity-centric approach to economic development which properly develops communities like Long Island City, lifts people up, and decreases the chance of individuals and families being displaced.
Our members are the epicenter of communities and know that talent exist everywhere. They are responsible for developing the professional and technical skills of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, many of which who need our services and would benefit the most from targeted investments and access to Amazon’s jobs. These New Yorkers require training of all levels, from adult literacy and HSE to coding, mobile and web development, data science, and cyber security. In order to meet the scale of potential jobs with current New Yorkers, our current workforce system will need the same scale of funding to create a large scale talent pipeline.
An equity-centric approach is our priority, and NYCETC will work with our members, and friends and partners at all levels of city and state government, who we trust are ready to ensure we move past the excitement for the potential of these investments and focus on being excited about making investments in people and communities a reality.
Jose Ortiz Jr.
NYC Employment and Training Coalition