The Hilltop Economic Empowerment Construction Trades Town Hall was held on Aug. 23 at Shiloh Baptist Church as a part of the Equity Initiative of the Hilltop Links to Opportunity Project. BOS Urban Planning and Design, consultants for the Equity Initiative, worked in partnership with members of the Hilltop Engagement Committee to recruit Hilltop residents to the town hall to learn about opportunities within the construction trades related to the current Hilltop Tacoma Link Extension of Sound Transit and to also share their experiences and questions regarding barriers to local hires.
The project will add 2.4 miles to the system, nearly doubling its length. The majority of the neighborhoods that the light rail will travel through have been approved as Opportunity Zones at the federal level, providing extra incentive to invest in these areas. Construction of the rail is slated to begin this fall, and there are many notable structures that are planned along its track.
The extension through the Hilltop presents an extraordinary opportunity to bring economic prosperity to the neighborhood’s residents, particularly with skilled jobs in the building and construction trades. Given the influx of opportunities expected with Sound Transit and nearby construction sites, the City of Tacoma is developing an employment model and recruitment strategy to ensure Hilltop community members, particularly women and people of color, can capture these economic opportunities.
An advisory group representing local Hilltop stakeholders, as well as a variety of construction workforce development professionals, has been meeting over the last few months to develop a series of recommendations for Tacoma.
At the Hilltop Economic Empowerment: Construction Trades Town Hall, participants will learn about resources and training opportunities from a series of knowledgeable panelists.
Groups with resource booths were: Apprenticeship and Non-Traditional Employment for Women, Trade Occupations Opportunity Center; YouthBuild Tacoma, Tacoma Community House, Center for Strong Families; Operating Engineers Regional Training Program, Northwest Carpenters Institute; Southwest Washington Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, City of Tacoma and Sound Transit
A panel discussion was held with five participants. Carol Wolfe is small business development and neighborhood revitalization manager with the city. She leads a team focused on business district revitalization, small business development and works cross functionally with city programs focused on workforce development. Mark Wheeler is the project labor agreement manager for Sound Transit. His team works with unions, contractors and Sound Transit to resolve disputes and enforce agreement compliance. Stephanie Caldwell is small business program manager with Absher Construction. She works with organizations in helping develop and implement project specific community plans. She serves on the city’s Local Employment and Apprenticeship Program Advisory Committee. Adriana Gamboa is vice president of Apprenticeship Construction Industry Training Council of Washington. She is responsible for oversight of the council’s state-approved apprenticeship programs. It currently has five training facilities across the state and a presence at Pacific Lutheran University. Gamboa serves as chair of the Local Employment and Apprenticeship Program Advisory Committee for the city. Mark Martinez is executive secretary of Pierce County Building and Trades Council, AFL-CIO. He represents 14 unions with 5,000 members who live and work in Pierce County. In partnership with contractors, the unions fund and sponsor apprenticeship programs.