Miami, South Florida Workforce still hoping for jobs program
By Yeleny Suarez
City of Miami and South Florida Workforce officials are still hoping to complete an agreement to launch Work Miami, a program that is to provide about 1,000 construction jobs to unskilled residents.
"The Miami Works concept was initiated a year ago by a couple of developers after seeing opportunity for employment for people in the city," said David Rosemond, chief of staff to City Manager Joe Arriola.
The pending agreement is to outline how money is to be spent and how the One Stop Career agency will direct the program.
South Florida Workforce is responsible for initiating state and federally funded employee-development programs in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties and helping employers and job seekers with services, labor market information and training for the economically disadvantaged, dislocated workers, refugees and those transitioning from welfare to work. The resources are provided through a network of One-Stop Career Centers throughout the region.
Commissioner Johnny Winton is upset over delays in signing the agreement.
"We got this program going," he said, "we have volunteers working on it and it's been held up over one delay and another delay."
Mr. Winton said he and the manager met with others and all agreed to get Miami Works kicked off during the holiday season.
"It is now February and it didn't get going because South Florida Workforce decided to get an interlocal agreement done," he said.
"My comment to South Florida Workforce is I am ready to start war with them again. I don't care about their stupid interlocal agreement.... They should be making the commitment.... We should have jobs open right now," Mr. Winton said. "This is preventing us from putting people to work that need jobs. I don't care anymore about it being signed or not signed. I want the program rolling. That will put the people on the streets to work that want to go to work getting jobs with the employers that want to hire them."
Mr. Rosemond said the city doesn't want the program to die and will make adjustments to help it succeed.
"The project will be tied to Mayor Manny Diaz's campaign against citywide poverty, educating Miami residents on how to maximize existing resources available," he said.
"South Florida Workforce will take care of the funding for the program but amounts for this program have to be allocated in the given process. [South Florida Workforce] allocates funds at the beginning of the year. We just can't come in and expect them to have funds and a plan for it," Mr. Rosemond said. "The city will provide a gap fund of $60,000 for things like drug testing and character assessments to help the program continue."
The subject of the pending Miami Works public-private partnership arose this month at a city commission meeting when officials repealed an ordinance that granted a 10% local preference to vendors with offices within the city limits. The previous ordinance allowed local contractors to be awarded contracts for more than $25,000 even if their bid was not the lowest - as long as it was within 10% of the lowest bid.
Mr. Rosemond vowed to have a successful report about the Miami Works agreement by today's (2/24) city commission meeting.
"I have worked harder on this than things of more cost. I am excited to give unemployable people an opportunity to turn their life around rebuild a life," he said, "Right now it is in its final draft phase. I was a builder, so seeing this program succeed will be a personal satisfaction."