Tuesday, February 09, 1999

County commits to construction training

Company will prepare 110 disadvantaged workers for stadium

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Hamilton County commissioners on Monday asked county staff to negotiate a contract with Jireh Development Corp. to help train disadvantaged workers for construction jobs.

        While commissioners hope the training program will help the county with its minority work-force goals on the stadium project, the program also aims to prepare workers for construction jobs regionally.

        “This particular project is kind of wrapped up in stadium issues and minority hiring issues,” Commissioner Bob Bedinghaus said. “But a more compelling reason is, as we look at employment rates in this region, one of the biggest impediments to growth in this area is lack of a qualified work force.”

        Unemployment in the Greater Cincinnati region is hovering around 3 percent.

        The county's hiring of Jireh Development Corp., an arm of Christ Emmanuel Christian Fellowship in Walnut Hills, is an attempt to direct government dollars to the training of people who have problems that keep them from getting and keeping a job.

        Charles Clingman, executive director of Jireh, said in an interview Monday that his group will start trying to recruit people for the program right away.

        Jireh aims to train 110 people, with a goal of finding jobs for 75 percent of them. Some of the people they train may have self-esteem problems, Mr. Clingman said. Others may be battling drug or alcohol addiction or face transportation or child care problems, he said.

        Commissioner John Dowlin questioned whether the county should set its sights higher by training a bigger group.

        But Commission President Tom Neyer Jr. said he thought 110 trainees would make a good pilot program. Mr. Neyer and Mr. Bedinghaus said if Jireh gets good results, the commissioners could extend the firm's work.

        Commissioners discussed hiring the Construction Owners Association of the Tri-States last May to conduct the work-force training. But that industry-sponsored agency drew criticism from leaders of the West End and Avondale community councils, who said there were more experienced agencies to do the work.

        Commissioners were surprised by the number of training programs that expressed interest, and ultimately opened up the process for competitive bidding.

        Jireh, which has been in operation since 1992, proposed doing the work for $162,031, the lowest bid among six groups vying for the work.


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