"The people in this community economically and income wise are at the bottom of the totem pole," said Bushtown resident Mary Morris.
"That’s a great thing for the people here. There’s a lot of high unemployment rates in this neighborhood," said City Councilman Moses Freeman.
As the homes prepare to come down over the coming months, the city wants to do a little more than hand the job to the lowest bidder.
"It is citizen based. I think that’s an important thing that I think one thing government should do is keep citizens focused and in their mind," said Freeman.
The city begins taking bids July 1st. The company must hire 80% of their local workforce from the neighborhood. They must also have a workable plan for recruiting and training hires, and must prove they’ve met the 80% goal regularly.
"We’ve worked to ensure that there is local source hiring happening. We looked at some community benefit agreements from around the country, and a lot of them work to make sure the community get opportunities to work," said James McKissick, Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs.
The city will also monitor the enforcement of the program.
"The city has an Office of Management that will oversee the development of the project and monitor the contract on a day by day basis or a week by week basis.There are reports that will be required of the contractor as the process is developing," said Freeman.
Residents say it’s a good first step.
"It is also good to know that there is a process that they can go about in getting jobs, skill training, help with their resume. It’s an opportunity for economic stability."
The process from awarding a bid, to starting work on the site is expected to take a little more than 90 days. Construction began today on a six foot fence surrounding the property to discourage squatter and vandals.
For more information on local employment resources, contact one or all of these organizations:
Career Development Center: Angela Daniels (423) 643-6804
Ex-Offender Workforce Development: (423) 698-3178
Urban League Workforce Development: (423) 756-1762
Work Smart (First Things First): (423) 267-5383