Checking in on the Community Job Forums: Mayors Stand Up
12:17 PM EDT
Ever since the President's Jobs Forum on December 3rd, and his tour of Allentown, PA the next day, we’ve been hearing back from local officials and citizens who signed up to host community jobs forums all over the country. You can still sign up and hold your own by January 7th -- we'll send you the materials you need and we'll be compiling the feedback into a report for the President.
Here’s a sample of how some of America’s mayors have been giving voice to their communities...
Nearly every link of the economic chain was present to discuss employment and growth at Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s community job summit Thursday afternoon. Topics ranged from job training to small business funding as those in attendance shared their observations and opinions about how to invigorate the local economy, where Fresno County's unemployment spiked to 15.8 percent in October. Swearengin said specific recommendations from the summit will be sent to Washington where they could become part of an immediate set of economic stimulus proposals. The recommendations are expected to include a request for greater funding for job training and education programs in fields that are lacking local, qualified workers. Education was also a hot topic at the White House jobs forum that Swearengin attended last week. She said access to risk capital and creating public infrastructure that supports economic growth also dominated the discussions.
About 200 representatives from local business, government, organized labor and community-based organizations gathered Wednesday in Buffalo Niagara Convention Center for a conversation about creating jobs and boosting the local economy. The forum was arranged by Mayor Byron W. Brown as a vehicle to cull ideas to enhance economic development locally — suggestions that will be transmitted to federal leaders in Washington, D. C. “Last week, the White House office asked me, along with other mayors across the country, to convene a local forum on jobs and economic growth as a way to reinforce the message that President Obama delivered [on Dec. 3] at a forum on jobs and economic growth,” Brown said during his introductory remarks to the forum.
Summoned by the White House, business leaders are calling on government investment to spark growth. St. Ambrose University is teaming up with Genesis Health System to build a new Health Sciences Education Center. It's an $11.5 million investment in the future. "We made the decision that in the teeth of the worst recession, we were going to go forward with this project," said Dr. Joan Lescinski, St. Ambrose president. A collaboration showing confidence in the local economy. It will boost employment in the short and long term.
While San Antonio as a whole weathered the recession better than most major cities, Mayor Julián Castro noted during a jobs summit Wednesday that thousands of San Antonians took its punishment. “The number of folks who are able-bodied and looking for work in San Antonio is greater than the entire population of Alamo Heights, Balcones Heights and Windcrest,” said Castro, whose office arranged summit at the behest of the Obama administration. More than 50 local leaders from business, academia, labor and nonprofit agencies participated, as well as the mayor and City Council members.
What would it take to get the economy rolling again? Nearly 30 people turned out Thursday evening to answer that question at a jobs forum led by Corvallis Mayor Charlie Tomlinson. The meeting was one of many taking place around the country as a follow-up to the national jobs summit hosted by President Obama on Dec. 3. Ideas gathered in the community forums will be forwarded to the White House for consideration. “I am convinced the White House is very interested in what Main Street is thinking, especially small business,” Tomlinson told the Corvallis group, which included business people, local government officials and aides to Congressmen Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader.
Lowering the cost of energy would spur economic development in the Fairbanks North Star Borough, leaders in state government, municipal government and the business sector agreed on Wednesday. Some also called for more locally produced food, more job training and less government oversight. A manufacturing base would be nice, too, they said. About 50 people joined borough Mayor Luke Hopkins to discuss ways to put more people to work. The rate of unemployment in Fairbanks is 7.4 percent, according to the state Department of Labor. Nationally, it’s above 10 percent. Hopkins called the brainstorming meeting at the behest of President Barack Obama, who called on municipal mayors to help lower unemployment. Strategies from the meeting will be shaped into a report bound for the White House. Hopkins hopes to draw more federal assistance to Fairbanks. He wants to spend the hoped-for aid on stimulating small business, he said. If there was one overriding theme at the meeting, it’s that the high cost of energy in the Fairbanks area is stifling economic growth.