Sunday, February 20, 2011

Hiring In The Hill District: The New Arena and Hotel Are Meeting Goals

Sunday, February 20, 2011
It was born out of the deal to build a new arena and took more than 12 months of protests, demonstrations and "pretty fierce" negotiations. But more than two years later, a community benefits agreement tied to the construction of the Consol Energy Center is producing dividends for Hill residents.

Of the 522 full and part-time jobs created at the new arena and the Cambria Suites Pittsburgh hotel next door, 203 have gone to people who live in Hill District ZIP codes or who used a Hill jobs center created as part of the agreement, according to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

That's nearly 40 percent of all the new jobs. At the hotel, 27 of the 37 new jobs, or nearly 73 percent, have gone to people with Hill ZIP codes or who used the First Source Center. "I think we're very pleased with the results of what really is a partnership with the Penguins," said Victor Roque, president and CEO of the Hill House Association. "They have been very supportive in opening doors and making sure people in the Hill District and African-Americans in general were given a fair shot at these jobs."

The agreement between the Penguins, Hill leaders, the city and the county was considered the first of its kind in Pittsburgh and was aimed specifically at the neighborhood that abuts the arena.
As part of the community benefits agreement, the Penguins committed to giving qualified Hill residents first consideration for jobs at the Consol Energy Center before opening the positions to other applicants.

The agreement also provided for the creation of the First Source Center, which handles job applications, pre-screens people for work, helps prepare applicants for interviews, offers career counseling and other services, and maintains a database of qualified applicants for various positions.
Of the new hires, 107 came through the First Source Center, which is managed by the Hill House Association.

Many of those hired from the Hill or through the First Source Center are minorities. Overall, 244 of the 522 new hires, or 47 percent, are minorities, according to the numbers complied by the Penguins. At the hotel, 57 percent of the people hired have been minorities.

One Hill resident hired was Melissa Klobuchar, an administrative assistant to human resources for Aramark at Consol Energy Center, which opened in August. A single mom, Ms. Klobuchar got her job in September after going through the First Source Center. She had previously worked as a waitress and at other administrative jobs.

She said she was drawn to First Source because she had heard "great things" about it being successful in placing people. She said she probably wouldn't have learned about the Aramark job had she not gone to the center.

Once there, she was interviewed, got help in fine-tuning her resume, and was asked about her interests and goals. After being interviewed by Aramark, she got the job.

"I love it. I love my job," she said. "The people are great. I feel comfortable here. What I don't know, I'm able to learn. I'm able to use my skills."

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