Living Cities is a 25 year old collaborative of the world’s leading financial institutions and foundations, that brings loans, grants and technical support to more than 100 cities across the country to help create economic opportunities for low-income people, especially people of color. From San Francisco to Baltimore, Albuquerque to New Orleans, we are seeing cities really making progress on seemingly intractable challenges such as poverty, racial inequality, and chronic un- and underemployment. That progress is a result of those cities being able to innovate and use all of the assets at their disposal to stimulate economic activity, grow local companies and create jobs for those most in need. In hard hit cities, like Cleveland, Baltimore and Detroit, public and private partners effectively have used local hiring and contracting requirements to insure that the recovery from the Great Recession could be shared more broadly. Local hiring and contracting requirements, in fact, have become a cornerstone for rebuilding the American economy, one community at a time.
That is why voting ‘no’ vote on Senate Bill 288, being considered by the House Committee on Transportation and Public Works in the Louisiana State Legislature, is so important to Louisiana and the struggling citizens of New Orleans. This bill aims to reverse New Orleans’ new local hiring policy passed by the City Council at the Mayor’s request in October 2015. This policy, called “Hire NOLA” helps connect local workers to career-track, good-wage, jobs by requiring contractors on city projects to “make a good faith effort” to ensure that 30 percent of work-hours go to Orleans Parish residents, particularly those who traditionally have faced barriers to employment. Not only is this hiring requirement substantially similar to other effective, local laws around the country, but it is supported by the New Orleans’ business community. It is an essential part of the Mayor and Council’s efforts to create an environment that is more sustainable and equitable for its employees and customers.
Living Cities is proud to be an active partner and supporter of the extraordinary efforts of New Orleans’ local private, public, nonprofit and philanthropic leaders to change the economic trajectory of its citizens long excluded from economic opportunity. This work is part of our multi-city Integration Initiative and we hold it up as an example to other cities that are grappling with similar challenges around high unemployment rates, particularly among people of color.
A ‘no’ vote on Senate Bill 288 will allow this work to stay on track and enable the city to fully harness its resources for the benefit of its taxpayers, including low-income New Orleanians and people of color.