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Has BUILD done more for job-seekers, or Forest City? Barclays Center jobs, like those at Atlantic Terminal mall, to be filled via city workforce center

Last month, when Mayor Mike Bloomberg joined his friend and neighbor Bruce Ratner at the in-construction Barclays Center to announce a plan for 2,000 jobs at the arena--1240 FTE, or 1,901 part-time--there was an important subtext: however useful Forest City Ratner's (paid) Community Benefit Agreement job-training partner has been, a city agency is in charge of hiring.

Sure, Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development (BUILD) has a role--along with other agencies, from NYCHA to community boards--in spreading the word to job-seekers. Indeed, BUILD has collected some 7,000 resumes, offering some version of job help. And BUILD has led unpaid customer service training programs to prepare 100 people to apply for such arena jobs.

But New York City's Workforce1 service will be responsible for hiring. And, as noted below, when the Atlantic Terminal mall opened in 2004, the same city agency did the job, without the help of BUILD.

That raises the question: has BUILD been more helpful to job-seekers, or to Forest City Ratner, for whom it has supplied regular public support? As the New York Observer reported in December 2005 regarding the fledgling group:
“My organization is made up of 185 job-training and employment organizations, and I have never heard of this group,” said Bonnie Potter, the executive director of the New York City Employment and Training Coalition, speaking to The Observer. “It’s curious that a developer would choose to put it in charge of its workforce-training program.”
BUILD's record

In this borough, and economy, the more help the better, so BUILD surely has been useful. Since 2008, it has placed some 460 people in mostly low-wage jobs, including 40 at Forest City Ratner-related businesses. Of the latter, eight have gotten jobs at Atlantic Yards, and BUILD officials say the ultimate number may be higher.

At the same time, BUILD was supposed to channel people to jobs at the Atlantic Yards project. Now. But the organization is also embroiled in a lawsuit, subject of a court hearing today, filed by seven of the 36 people who went through a CBA-mandated apprenticeship program. They claim they were misled by promises that it would be clear path to a union job.

Could the money BUILD has received over the years--well over  $1 million, from Forest City Ratner and city funds--have done more for job-seekers if channeled elsewhere? Perhaps. Meanwhile, it's unlikely that any other job-training group would have been as fervently supportive of the project.

The announcement

The Mayor's 4/26/12 press release, MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND FOREST CITY RATNER ANNOUNCE PLAN TO FILL 2,000 JOBS AT NEW BARCLAYS CENTER IN BROOKLYN, indicated that graduates of the BUILD training program would get priority, but they also would be competing with residents of four Community Board districts, and housing project residents, presumably a very large pool:
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today joined Forest City Ratner Companies Chairman and CEO Bruce Ratner to announce a plan to fill approximately 2,000 jobs at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn using the City’s Workforce1 services. Priority hiring for the jobs, which will include full- and part-time positions, will be for residents of Brooklyn Community Boards 2, 3, 6 and 8, graduates of Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development’s training program, and New York City Housing Authority residents of Ingersoll, Whitman, Farragut, Atlantic Terminal, Wyckoff Gardens, Warren Street, Lafayette Gardens and Gowanus Houses. Job fairs will be held in June, July and August in locations near the arena to fill the majority of the positions.
Note that Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Rob Walsh got to speak at the event, not BUILD CEO James Caldwell. In the press release, Walsh, not Caldwell, was quoted:
“We will work closely with FCRC, BUILD and the Housing Authority to ensure that local residents know about these jobs and benefit from this project,” said Department of Small Business Services Commissioner Walsh. “The arena will provide a great diversity of employment, which means greater opportunity for a wide range of people.”
Back in 2004

BUILD wasn't needed when Forest City Ratner's tenants sought to fill jobs at the developer's Atlantic Terminal mall across the street.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Robert W. Walsh today launched a major employment initiative to help fill 800 jobs through a public-private partnership with the business tenants of the new Atlantic Terminal Development in Downtown Brooklyn. The announcement was made at the opening of the new Brooklyn Workforce1 Career Center at 9 Bond Street in Downtown Brooklyn, a one-stop shop for career counseling, job placement, educational advancement and workforce services for businesses. This unique partnership, which includes job training and placement initiatives, will give local residents a competitive edge in securing jobs. The Atlantic Terminal businesses are dedicated to filling a majority of the 800 new jobs with local residents. State Department of Labor Executive Deputy Commissioner Dennis P. Ryan, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, City Council Members Letitia James and David Yassky, and Marcus Lewis from Target joined the Mayor and Commissioner Walsh at the announcement.
Note that two City Council members were invited to the announcement in 2004, while neither James nor Steve Levin, who succeeded Yassky--attended the more recent announcement.

The" right way to get things done"?

In 2004, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz was quoted:
"The opening of Brooklyn's Workforce1 career center demonstrates the right way to get things done," said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. "Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Walsh have placed Brooklyn and New York at the cutting edge of a great new chapter in our history, where developments like the new Atlantic Terminal Shopping Center and Steiner Studios become a win-win - where as many jobs as possible created by new businesses go to those who live in the community. The establishment of the Workforce1 career center in Downtown Brooklyn will set the benchmark for responsible growth in Brooklyn today - and in America tomorrow."
If that career center was such a "benchmark," to echo Markowitz, then was BUILD really needed? Or, if more job help services in Brooklyn were needed, should they have been delivered via an organization so tied to one developer and one project?


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