In 1935, Cleveland was in the depths of the Great Depression. Unemployment had skyrocketed since the 1929 economic collapse, and there was no end in sight. Something bold and dramatic had to be done to put Americans back to work and improve the country’s infrastructure at the same time. President Roosevelt’s response was to launch the WPA, the Works Progress Administration. Unemployed workers all over the country, including Cleveland, were put to work – improving the country while learning new skills. The WPA was big, bold, and it worked.
Our Current Challenge
Now in 2021, Cleveland is again facing an economic crisis that demands bold action. Like its New Deal predecessor, the Cleveland Jobs Now will be a massive jobs program – the biggest program of its kind in Cleveland since the original WPA. New federal funding has given Cleveland the resources we need to take decisive action. This Cleveland Jobs Now program will seize this moment and create a local jobs market where every Cleveland resident who wants work will have work.
With the myriad of challenges facing our neighborhoods, we need to hire and employ our own to solve these problems. Problems such as eliminating blight, bringing our housing stock up to code, and expanding neighborhood public art are just some ways the Cleveland Jobs Now can work.
This is Cleveland’s chance to launch our community forward and provide thousands of jobs along the way.
Types of Projects
There is no shortage of projects in need of money and workers. Here are just a few examples:
- Parks/Green Space/Playgrounds
- Streetscape Improvements (residential or commercial), including pedestrian safety elements
- Public Art (could fit with Parks/Streetscapes, etc.)
- Commercial Storefront Improvements
- Clean Energy Projects (solar panel installation on vacant lot to power local businesses or neighborhoods, green building improvements)
- Residential Safety Improvements for Seniors (security, grab bars, other home improvements)
Every Cleveland Jobs Now project in every ward will have apprenticeships attached that will lead to permanent employment, and every major City of Cleveland building or public works project will have a mandatory apprenticeship element, so that every public works project will lead to permanent employment for the apprentices who work on them.
Every ward in Cleveland was hit hard by the pandemic, and every ward deserves Cleveland Jobs Now projects. There will be no “winners and losers” among our wards and neighborhoods because each ward is guaranteed to be included.
Because government works best when it listens to the people it serves, each and every Ward will have a public/community input process for selecting projects.
Cleveland Jobs Now will work collaboratively with local non-profits, labor unions, businesses, and the faith community. These partnerships can help define potential workers, projects, training opportunities and collaborative efforts.
Because it is specifically designed to help Cleveland recover economically from the pandemic, it is eligible for American Recovery Program Act funding, in addition to supplemental funding from the City of Cleveland and foundations.
Existing job training programs
There are multiple and overlapping job training and placement programs in Cleveland. Cleveland Jobs Now will work collaboratively with these programs to increase efficiency and avoid duplication.
Cleveland has one of the most creative arts communities in the country. Like the original WPA, Cleveland Jobs Now will sponsor neighborhood arts projects, employing both established and aspiring artists to help beautify our city.
After previous recessions and depressions, Cleveland lagged other metro areas, taking years to recover. This time, Cleveland should lead the nation for a change- with a creative, bold approach that invests in our people. Cleveland Jobs Now will show the rest of the country how it can be done.