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Identity & Community
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City Designs Programs, Incentives To Build Diverse Municipal Construction Workforce

Allyson Ruggieri
Nearly $3 billion of new development is expected in downtown Pittsburgh in the near future, prompting the city of Pittsburgh to ask local construction companies to increase the number of minority hires for their projects.

Mayor Bill Peduto signed a pair of executive orders Tuesday meant to increase local minority hires in municipal construction.

One order creates a Workforce Development Fund to entice more Pittsburgh residents into the construction industry. The program will be funded, in part, by the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Regional Building Trades Council, to help entice regional stakeholders to contribute in the future. The order also establishes a pre-apprenticeship program in the city and a web portal for job seekers.

The second executive order sets a goal for people of color to make up at least 12 percent of the workforce for municipal construction projects of $500,000 or more.

Peduto said Pittsburgh is going through a construction boom, and additional workers will be needed. 

"We're either going to find them in places like Homewood, Hazelwood and the Hill, or we're going to find them in Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland," he said. "I'd prefer trying to find people from this city and this region to be able to fill those jobs."

The city's capital budget allows for $1.1 billion dollars in construction over the next decade, and planned projects include an energy efficiency makeover of the City County Building and a variety of public works upgrades.

The order also sets a diversity goal for the companies they create contracts with. The goal for minority-owned contractors will be set at 18 percent, and woman-owned contractors will be set at 7 percent.

No specific enforcement measures were disclosed on how the diversity goals will be enforced, and if there will be consequences for not meeting it. However, Rick Williams, manager of equity and inclusion for the city, said there will be some oversight.

"We'll be able to review and provide reports to Council and the Mayor in regards to the performance of the various contracts coming through," Williams said.

City Council will vote on a later date to codify the executive orders.