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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 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.
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.
Gold plating is when we make changes to projects that are outside the scope of the original plan, resulting in increased time, expenses, and waste. Gold-plating presents barriers to accomplishing good urbanism in the form of initial financial costs that can completely block growth. A lean infrastructure approach to city planning focuses on smaller, incremental improvements instead of sweeping, inefficient upgrades. It prioritizes long term well-being, expandable and scalable projects, and building community competency and ownership of their neighborhoods. The document provides a theoretical and historical overview of infrastructure planning and lessons learned from past mistakes to help city planners move forward with a recommitment to designing workable solutions that support civilization in an economical and sustainable fashion.
An executive order outlining the process for considering environmental concerns and equitable development in public contracting.
In recent years, cities have become the drivers of government innovation. As urban growth has exploded over the past half century - increasing from a third to nearly 60 percent of world population today - local officials have been forced to solve problems and generate new ideas, policies, and approaches. From New York to Medellin to Copenhagen, mayors and city managers are finding novel ways to address some of the biggest challenges facing society, whether combating entrenched poverty, financing new infrastructure projects, or protecting the environment.
Revive Oakland’s Good Jobs Policy is a case study demonstrating how publicly funded development projects can create widespread economic opportunity. Thanks to an innovative good jobs policy, the warehouse and logistics complex envisioned can pay over 3,000 workers a living wage and reserve half of the jobs for Oakland residents, transforming the old Army base into an economic engine for the city and its people. The policy will make it easier for the formerly incarcerated to find work and provides protections against exploitative temporary work arrangements so common to the sector. The good jobs policy limits the use of temporary hires, reserves jobs for disadvantaged workers, and bans employers pre-screening job applicants for criminal records. These policies can help provide a national model for community-driven economic development.
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.