Local officials and business owners came together for the signing of a new executive order that focuses on hiring local labor for large construction projects in Erie County.
The First Source Policy, signed by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz Wednesday, requires construction projects in Erie County over $250,000 and involving at least three workers to employ qualified local residents, with a focus on hiring individuals from high-poverty areas. That includes 16 zip codes residing in Buffalo, Cheektowaga and Lackawanna, to name a few.
Buffalo NAACP President Rev. Mark Blue said this order will set a benchmark for other areas to follow.
"Getting a chance to move out of poverty, to get them into jobs that they're skilled at and, hopefully, with the training that's being done by the city and their Northland Project, bring them skills to where they're employable not just for one job, but for many jobs," Blue said.
He said the policy will help urban as well as rural residents.
"It's equally distributing, let me say, wealth to areas that have received, wealth into areas that have been economically disadvantaged for years," Blue said. "And also it brings hope to those who have not had an opportunity to be employed or even underemployed."
Blue said there is a working-poor population in the county that needs to be addressed and that most people are just looking for an opportunity.
Creating that opportunity is something the Buffalo Building Trades Council is focused on doing. Although, as
President Paul Brown said, not everyone liked the idea originally.
"I thought they were nuts at first, you know what I mean," Brown said. "The Building Trades said, 'Look it, if you want to hire these poor people from these zip codes to put in your programs,' they looked at them and said, 'What are you guys crazy? What the heck is that?"
Brown said he "is really glad" the county did not restrict the order to Buffalo and believes this policy will lead to career jobs for disadvantaged workers.
"The executive order is gonna open an avenue for these kids to be able to be able to go on a job," Brown said. "In the Building Trades, we have a pre-apprentice program and we recruit straight from those zip codes. So now we can put them in direct entry into an apprentice program, so now if somebody were to need somebody - whether it's union or non-union - they can take them right from this pre-apprentice program and ut them in their apprentice program."
The First Source Policy will go into effect starting October 1.