PUSH Buffalo, Outsource Center, and Savarino prove High Road Economic Development works for Communities and Developers
Buffalo, NY–In job-starved Buffalo, an area developer and community groups will be coming together this Thursday, (tomorrow) August 13, 2015 at 12:00pm to celebrate a partnership that has created 30 living-wage jobs. PUSH Buffalo, Open Buffalo, The Outsource Center and Savarino Construction partnered on the 500 Seneca Street project to maximize development dollars from the Erie County Industrial Development Agency to invest in the community. These groups have proven that “high road economic development” can work for communities and developers.
In early 2014, PUSH Buffalo and Savarino Construction joined forces to launch an innovative neighborhood employment and grassroots economic development initiative called the community hiring hall. The community hiring hall model has demonstrated potential as an antidote to low wage contingent work in the non-unionized construction industry sector in Buffalo. Since the initiative launched PUSH has successfully recruited and employed a 14 person crew of entry-level and skilled construction laborers drawn mostly from disenfranchised communities of color on the East and West Sides of Buffalo, two areas in the region that experiencing a crisis of mass unemployment.
Workers participating in the community hiring hall initiative have earned a $14-$15 per hour wage plus additional benefits, like paid time off, employer sponsored health insurance, and a transportation allowance. PUSH partnered with Savarino Construction to place workers at a large, publicly subsidized redevelopment project located at 500 Seneca Street in Buffalo, NY. In early 2015, the Outsource Center, a minority-owned contracting and construction training organization, joined the initiative and assigned an additional 11 person crew of laborers to the project. The community hiring hall initiative has proven that high road economic development can work for communities and developers.
“Buffalo is booming but there have been many questions about how our economic development dollars are being used and how much the community benefits. This is an example of how the game should work – developers working with the community building wealth by creating living wage jobs. At its 500 Seneca Street project, Savarino Construction hired around 30 people from our community hiring hall and through the Outsource Center. We want to thank Sam Savarino for working with us to prove that high road economic development benefits developers, workers and communities” says Aaron Bartley, Executive Director of PUSH Buffalo.
“Our firm has benefited greatly from our labor relationship with PUSH. The employees we have utilized have been a credit to their industry and their craft” says Sam Savarino of Savarino Construction.
Spencer Gaskin of the Outsource Center states, "More general contractors and developers should follow the lead of Sam Savarino and Rocco Termini by working with organizations like Outsource Center and PUSH Buffalo to find qualified minority workers who can fill living wage construction jobs on publicly supported projects. We need to give men and women in minority communities opportunities to support their families that they wouldn't otherwise have access to because of the harsh realities of an unjust economic system."
Open Buffalo, meanwhile, has convened a coalition of partners focused on bringing responsible economic development policies and practices to Buffalo. “Through our High Road Economic Development table, we are proud to partner with positive change-makers like PUSH Buffalo, the Outsource Center, and local employers who do the right thing,” says Franchelle Hart, Open Buffalo’s Executive Director. “Moving forward, we will build off of Savarino Construction’s shining example to make worker-friendly development the norm in Buffalo, rather than the exception.”
PUSH, the Outsource Center, and Open Buffalo look forward to working with regional development agencies, like ECIDA, and local and state policymakers to make high road development strategies a priority on all publicly supported projects.
We will be at the Savarino Construction site located at 500 Seneca Street in Buffalo, NY this Thursday, August 13 at 12:00pm for a celebration and press conference. We will have food and refreshments.
Posted on Wed, August 12, 2015
by PUSH Buffalo