Friday, March 16, 2012

Forest City: average of 623 workers, 196 Brooklyn residents; job fairs coming for arena-related jobs

Finally Forest City Ratner has begun to more accurately describe the amount of workers at the Atlantic Yards site, which includes the arena, transit connection, and railyard projects.

In the past, at the bimonthly Atlantic Yards District Service Cabinet meetings, the developer has reported the cumulative number of workers, not the average full-time count. The former number exaggerates the total, since it counts people working only briefly on site.

After the last cabinet meeting, in January, I pointed out the more accurate numbers.

880 workers, average 623

Yesterday, at the cabinet meeting, Forest City official Sonya Covington reported that for the week ending March 4, there were a total of 880 workers on site, with an average of 623 workers.

Of that total, 462 were New York City residents, among them 196 Brooklyn residents.

Covington added that, since the project began, Forest City had hired 160 people through the Community Labor Exchange, and 106 of those workers remain on site. That again was a more precise description of the total worker count.

City Council Member Letitia James asked how many of the workers were from local Brooklyn community boards around the arena, were women, or people of color.

Forest City couldn't provide specifics, but Covington said that about a third of the approximately 400 New York City residents at the arena site were from three local community boards.

Job fairs

Forest City's Jane Marshall said that the developer will soon share information with Community Boards and elected officials regarding job fairs for arena-related jobs. The sessions may be broken out by category of employment.

"We want to be sensitive to everyone's suggestions on where they should be held," Marshall said.

Regading employment, James asked if Forest City would work with Workforce 1, a service of the New York City Department of Small Business Services.

Marshall said yes, that they would reach out to Workforce 1, and "we're also working with our CBA [Community Benefits Agreement] partner BUILD, but we want to cast a wide net."

James responded that she funds the Fifth Avenue Committee, which has a job-training program. "I urge you to work with them."

Marshall kept a poker face, perhaps mindful that the Fifth Avenue Committee has criticized Atlantic Yards via its participation in the BrooklynSpeaks initiative.

James asked if individuals formerly incarcerated for nonviolent crimes would be eligible for hiring.

"I don't know the exact employment/hiring procedures," Marshall said, "We would never exclude people just because they have something on their record. It is a judgment call... We should get back to you."

BUILD last August circulated a notice recruiting people unpaid customer service training, specifying "no criminal record," then withdrew and updated the notice.

Food and beverage opportunities

Marshall said that Forest City hired a food consultant to visit Brooklyn restaurants to evaluate potential products that could be in the arena. Beyond that, Forest City recently posted and advertised a vendor survey to recruit potential Brooklyn-based food and restaurant purveyors.

James suggested several places within and near her district for job fairs: Long Island University, the Ingersoll Community Center, Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn College, Bed-Stuy Restoration, and the Brownsville Rec Center.

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