Lakeshore News Tonight

Chamber Asks Airport Committee About P3 Jobs

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September 5, 2013 —  Though “job opportunity” was not on the Gary Chicago International Airport agenda, it was a topic of discussion during the Gary Chamber of Commerce meeting this week.

Business leaders attending yesterday’s Gary Chicago International Airport development update meeting dominated the Q-and-A session with questions about filling jobs, and more specifically, filling jobs with Gary residents.  One of the first leaders to express his concern was the President of the Indiana Federation of Interfaith Organizations and Job Coalition, Pastor Dwight Gardner, “The Gary airport is a $166-million development project, and at this point 95% of the man-hours thus far paid out on it have been paid to people who don’t live in the local community.”

The adviser to Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Bo Kemp says, “For those people that exist in this community who have those skill sets and there are many of them, many of them have options. We hope to encourage many of them to actually engage in working with the City of Gary and the airport on these issues.”

Kemp says he’s not able to accommodate a job seeker who does not qualify for a job, “For those who are not quite there yet, we want to put together programs to get them there. I think there’s no choice, but we’re going to have to figure out how to fund them.”

Kemp says the City has not money set aside for job training, “But as part of the P3 and the negotiations around all the development that we hope to take place, part of what we hope to achieve out of that are projects and plans and funding that would allow us to do the types of training and get the types of companies engaged that will get us to where we want to be.”

Powers Realty and Powers Construction Company, Cynthia Powers says, “We know that our Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is engaged, educated at Harvard, and wants all of our young people to get job training to become apprentices to become journeymen.”

Powers says she believes job training leads to employment and that career can change society, “It’s not just a job opportunity, it’s not just  working to put in 1 runway, it’s about working the rest of their lives and that’s what we have to focus on, it is more than one job, it’s a lifetime.”

Gardner says his organization, “thinks the P3 idea has huge potential. There are tremendous possibilities, we think the Mayor is right on target, but we also know that if that job issue is not addressed from the beginning, it may never be addressed.”

Ad Hoc committee member Bo Kemp agrees, “That’s an accurate statement, much of the framework at least of how you want to involve local companies, minority businesses, women-owned businesses, you need to have that conservation right up from.”

The adviser to the Mayor says the discussion of Gary residents getting jobs at the airport is important, but for now the committee’s focus is recommending public-private partnership investors to the airport authority.

The P3 Ad Hoc committee chair says the committee will meet Friday to choose whom it will recommend to the airport board.

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