Moving Forward

February 19, 2008 -- Leslie Moody

There is tremendous movement being built in metro cities all across the country.  Working people are energized about change, civically engaged in record numbers, and hopeful that 2008 will bring real economic prosperity and justice for all.  Answering the call for change, our work continues to push the limits of what can be accomplished to alleviate poverty, build the middle class, and ultimately shape local economies to promote equity and sustainability.  Building on our hard-won victories and creating new synergies among key partners and allies empowers our movement to meet the challenges we face.

This month we witnessed a groundbreaking victory in Los Angeles when the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency (LA CRA) approved its landmark Construction Careers and Project Stabilization policy.  This policy greatly increases the wages, benefits, and working conditions of construction workers who perform some of the most grueling and dangerous work in our country.  A true partnership between the city, the construction trades, contractors, and developers will focus on recruiting among L.A.'s jobless and underemployed to create real career opportunities.

Our Partners in Pittsburgh, Orange County, Milwaukee and so many others continue to debunk the myth that "any development is good development."  As the stories by Pittsburgh United and OCCORD illustrate, our work assists communities to understand the detriment of "business as usual" approaches to economic development.   The demand for community voice and participation in complex development processes is bringing city leaders and developers back to a table where discussions are proven to yield better results for cities, developers, and communities.

In the cities of Oakland, San Jose and Denver we are seeing how thoughtful, long-term engagement leads to the deeper understanding of regional budget, transit and land use planning decisions.  Raising awareness and expectations among our constituencies increases the chances that scarce public investments in public infrastructure reap tangible benefits for workers and communities.  We can be government's greatest asset in this area.

Finally, seeing our work become collaborative across regions is truly inspiring.  This month FRESC had the opportunity to build on the trail-blazing work by the city of Los Angeles by introducing LA CRA Director to Denver's city leadership.  And just this week the city of Pittsburgh took a delegation of 20 community and city leaders to Milwaukee to learn about the Big Step Program, a creative recruitment, training and mentoring model for their city as it undergoes new development.  This type of idea sharing and cross fertilization is critical to changing the conversation in our cities around economic development.

Don't forget to join us for the "CBAs and Beyond" track at the Good Jobs First conference in Baltimore, Maryland May 7-8!  This is a great opportunity to learn from each other's fantastic work and meet others working at the state level to increase transparency and accountability in public-private partnerships.  See you there!

Solidarity!

Leslie Moody
Partnership Executive Director