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Major economic development projects and infrastructure investment can present both tremendous opportunities and significant threats for communities and residents. Using a community benefits approach, as a local government official you have powerful tools available to ensure that these projects provide the greatest social, economic and environmental benefits while also not harming surrounding neighborhoods. In short, community benefits are assets available through economic development that meet real community needs. Examples include community access to living wage jobs, affordable housing, health and community services and open space.
The Maine Center for Economic Policy (MECEP) was retained by the Portland Independent Business and Community Alliance to collect and analyze data related to the economic impact of businesses in Portland, Maine. The primary purpose of the study was to quantify the impact of locally owned businesses compared to national chains on the local economy. MECEP's analysis found that in general every $100 spent at locally owned businesses generates an additional $58 in local impact. By comparison, $100 spent at a representative national chain store generates $33 in local impact. Stated differently, MECEP found that money spent at local businesses generates as much as a 76% greater return to the local economy than money spent at national chains. These findings are consistent with similar studies conducted in other states and can vary by business type.
The City of Seattle supports construction jobs and meaningful employment for those in our community through programs that prepare and train workers for careers with family-sustaining wages. In early 2015, the Seattle City Council adopted a new City law, proposed by Mayor Ed Murray, to create construction career opportunities for those in our community.
Small businesses are the lifeblood of the economy in the United States. Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Office of Advocacy at the U.S. Small Business Administration documented that small businesses accounted for over 92% of the net new jobs creation between 1989 and 2003. The smallest among the small businesses (those employing fewer than 20 employees) accounted for 85% of the net new job creation over the same period. In essence, the vast majority of the new jobs created in the economy come from the very small businesses. Of the total 21.8 million jobs created between 1989 and 2003, small businesses under 20 employees created 18.6 million jobs, small businesses with between 20 and 500 employees created 1.5 million jobs, and large businesses and companies (with over 500 employees) created only 1.7 million jobs. Similarly, while small businesses created net new jobs in 12 of those 14 years, large businesses eliminated more jobs than they created in 5 of those 14 years.
An ordinance requiring project labor agreements to promote hiring of under-employed and unemployed workers.
Public construction projects are an expenditure of public tax dollars; as such, public agencies have an opportunity to develop policies for public construction projects to benefit taxpayers with employment and business opportunities. Targeted hire initiatives create institutional mechanisms to increase the participation of socially and economically disadvantaged workers and businesses in public construction projects based on work availability. Many public agencies have used targeted hire to leverage their investment in construction into good jobs for those who need an economic boost. For communities that experience historic disinvestment and chronic un- and underemployment, such work can create lasting stability for families and a pathway to revitalize the local economy.
An executive order outlining the process for considering environmental concerns and equitable development in public contracting.
Over the past decade, the community benefits movement has emerged as a powerful mechanism for challenging the political and economic realities that undermine urban communities. Community benefits campaigns strive to build new political relationships among unlikely allies, uniting labor, community, environmental and faith-based groups behind broad-based agendas focused on economic development that prioritizes high-quality jobs, creates new career paths for low-income workers, marshals resources for environmental cleanup and sustainability, and avails residents of access to more affordable housing options. In many cities where community benefits coalitions work, research has shown that, too often, new development fails to generate high quality jobs and career paths for residents of the poorest parts of the city. Local hire requirements are a critical component of the community benefits agenda because they create concrete mechanisms for ensuring that investment of public funds in economic development will direct resources into low-income neighborhoods. The point is not only to hire local residents, but to use local hire requirements to target opportunities to low-income residents and people of color who might otherwise not benefit from new development. Local hiring programs are on the strongest legal footing, and are likely to produce the most meaningful outcomes, when they are rooted in efforts to reduce poverty rather than merely to hire city residents.
Best Value Contracting creates a set of enforceable qualifications with a single point of accountability, pervormance qualifications, workforce development, oversight and transparency on publicly funded projects.