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Businesses and Organizations Work to Connect Minority Communities with Jobs

photo of someone on a job website
Some businesses and organizations in Northeast Ohio are working to connect minority communities to jobs.

A recent report from Team NEO finds that while the pandemic has increased economic gaps along racial lines, some businesses and organizations in Northeast Ohio are working to address the inequities. The Pro Football Hall of Fame Village in Canton is one of them.

The report highlights what the Hall of Fame Village has been offering, including educational seminars, mentoring and networking opportunities for minority contractors.

Anne Graffice, executive vice president for public affairs, says the Hall of Fame Village had a commitment to diversity from the beginning of the project.

“We sent out multiple invitations and had multiple events onsite and then via Zoom and answered questions and then really hosted sessions to help educate and share information as much as possible,” she said.

Graffice says the Hall of Fame Village intends for these relationships to continue after construction ends.

“If we do this right, these aren’t one-off employment opportunities for local minority and regional minority contractors and partners. These are hopefully sustainable relationships and employment opportunities that will be continual,” she said.

Graffice says the project has the potential to create 12,000 to 15,000 new jobs, which she believes will be transformational for the region.

In Cuyahoga County, Shana Marbury with Greater Cleveland Partnership says her organization has several initiatives including a program that provides opportunities for underrepresented populations in manufacturing. But she says communicating these opportunities can be one of the biggest hurdles.

Marbury on awareness for job opportunities

“I would say the key to aligning opportunities is actual awareness. People have to be aware that these industries are welcoming and open to them and looking for employees,” she said.

Marbury says it’s important that this awareness starts early. She points to a pilot program focused on exposing high school seniors in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District to employers from in-demand industries.

Abigail Bottar covers Akron, Canton, Kent and the surrounding areas for Ideastream Public Media.