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ECC Helps NOLA Build Community Jobs and Contractor Pipelines

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ECC’s work advising the City of New Orleans (NOLA) on workforce and inclusion policies is coming to fruition with the city’s launch of HireNOLA and BuildNOLA, which Mayor Mitch Landrieu had announced in early September. On October 1, the City Council unanimously approved the ordinance for HireNOLA, which expands job opportunities for local and disadvantaged residents.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu announces the launch of BuildNOLA.And in late September, Landrieu launched BuildNOLA, a training program to help local small and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) compete for public and private contracts. Training of the first group of 31 participants is now underway.

ECC’s continuing advisory role to the mayor’s Network for Economic Opportunity is now focused on helping the city implement HireNOLA when the ordinance goes into effect in January 2016. It requires contractors to use the city as the first source for recruitment, referrals and placement of new hires on applicable contracts and to demonstrate “good faith efforts to hire local and disadvantaged workers.”

The good faith hiring goals require at least half of all work hours on city construction and city-incentivized projects to be completed by local workers and 30 percent to be completed by disadvantaged workers. The 2015 local participation goals will increase by 5 percent annually until 2020.

Defining Good Faith Effort

Starting in late 2014, Michael Bejarano of ECC’s Los Angeles office and EC Los Angeles Director Veronica Soto have worked part-time in NOLA, helping the city develop its DBE business inclusion strategy and its DBE “good faith effort” requirements, as well as to flesh out the local hire policy.

For BuildNOLA, Bejarano and Soto advised the city on how to help local businesses compete successfully for city-funded construction and professional services procurement contracts, based on small business training models developed by ECC and the Los Angeles Unified School District for local large-capital improvement projects.

“As we have implemented the mayor’s Economic Opportunity Strategy, we have leveraged our partnership with Emerald Cities, focusing on the introduction of strong local policies that hit at the core of our overall strategy and goals,” said Ashleigh Gardere, senior advisor for economic opportunity and executive director of The Network for Economic Opportunity. “We look forward to continuing our work with Emerald Cities as we move to the next phase of policy implementation.”

Pathways to Prosperity

HireNOLA lines up with Landrieu’s Economic Opportunity Strategy that connects disadvantaged job seekers to training and small businesses to new opportunities. The mayor has described Hire NOLA as creating “pathways to prosperity” for local residents.

HireNOLA covers city contracts valued at more than $150,000 for construction, alteration or demolition of public buildings or city public works. The ordinance also covers contracts of that size through which the city provides tax incentives for economic development projects.

Contractor Training, Coaching

Bejarano is currently working with NOLA’s Network for Economic Opportunity to implement BuildNOLA, which provides both formal training and one-on-one technical assistance, all free of charge to participants.  

Based at Delgado Community College, the training is delivered by a number of local program partners that have subject matter expertise in fields such as law, bonding, small business lending and more.  The training will prepare local small businesses and DBEs to:

  • Perform a detailed estimate for a specific project;

  • Prepare relevant forms for bidding work based on the estimate;

  • Prepare a Request for Proposal response for professional services procurement opportunities;

  • Develop a safety plan in compliance with state of Louisiana regulations; and

  • Facilitate access to capital and surety bonds.

 In addition to this training, BuildNOLA offers one-on-one technical assistance (coaching) focusing on the personal development of the business owner and specific development areas identified by an initial business assessment. Coaching includes sessions focusing on the achievement of business goals and milestones and tracking of a business’s progression on targeted project timelines.

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