Modified: October 9, 2017 10:11am
By Mark Poloncarz
Through the past several years we have been witnesses to a renaissance here in Erie County, one that has seen unemployment rates fall while new businesses have grown. My administration continues to work hard to not only attract new businesses but to make sure that the workforce they need to succeed is in place and ready for them. As I’ve said many times, a rising tide lifts all boats, but we need to make certain that everyone has equal access to the opportunities that are coming our way in order to lift their own boat. One way we can do that is by ensuring local residents are employed on local projects.
As such, I was recently joined by elected officials and members of the business and labor community to sign my eighteenth Executive Order, mandating that Erie County construction projects of over $250,000 and involving at least three workers must include requirements to employ local workers. The purpose of the Order is to foster construction employment opportunities for qualified local residents, underemployed individuals or otherwise disadvantaged workers on projects bid by Erie County and located within the county. The Order demands that our local workforce be the “first source” for labor on projects that Erie County is investing tax dollars in, so while we are building infrastructure we are simultaneously building our workforce. But this Order goes even further to help workers gain access to these jobs.
Our First Source policy requires, on construction jobs of $250,000 or more bid by Erie County, 100% of the workforce must come from the 8 counties of WNY, while 70% of that number must be Erie County residents. Furthermore, 20% of those workers must be residents from one of 16 high-poverty zip codes, several of which are in the City of Buffalo but which also include areas of Cheektowaga, Farnham, Lackawanna, and Wales Center. Individuals residing in these zip codes as well as disadvantaged workers countywide, already facing challenges in securing meaningful employment and experiencing higher rates of unemployment themselves, will now have opportunities to secure employment on county-bid projects for which they meet qualifications.
With this Executive Order we are investing in our local workforce and extending opportunity to the over 182,000 working-age individuals in our region who are either unemployed or underemployed and looking for work.
Each year, Erie County invests over $30 million in tax dollars for public works construction projects across the county. We are leveraging that investment to create opportunity for more county residents and by doing so are ensuring that we are investing in our workforce as well as our infrastructure. Erie County’s residents pay for the projects through their tax-dollars, and now we are guaranteeing those tax-dollars flow back to local residents, which is a win-win for all.