Salome Kingsley, an Allentown resident since 1974, is currently working part time and readily admits that she's struggling to make ends meet.
"A part-time job is a struggle," Kingsley told the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Development Authority (ANIZDA) during a meeting on Wednesday. "I've been working a part-time job for nine months and I'm barely surviving. I have a house, a mortgage, utilities and it's difficult to find a full-time job. I live near the (Neighborhood Improvement Zone) and want to see that the jobs are given to the residents of Allentown."
To that end, ANIZDA is on the same page as the residents. ANIZDA created a targeted jobs study committee at its Wednesday meeting.
The committee, according to board member Seymour Traub, is tasked to consider what actions should be taken to enhance opportunities for Allentown residents to be hired for new jobs in the NIZ, at appropriate wages, without unreasonably deterring redevelopment.
The jobs study committee, chaired by ANIZDA member Nelson Diaz, includes a representative from Greenwood Hospitality, the operator of the planned hotel; a representative from Global Spectrum, the operator of the arena and a representative from City Center Investment Corp.
Also sitting on the committee, in addition to three ANIZDA members, are Amy Trapp of the human resources department of the City of Allentown; Miriam Huertas of the Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce and Ce-Ce Gerlach of the Allentown Board of Education.
Gerlach told the board that the committee's initiatives should include finding incentives to hire local residents.
She suggested a pipeline for Allentown School District students to train for jobs and receive internships, as well as job fairs geared to local residents that are held before positions are advertised to the public at large.
"The bread of a livelihood and hope make this workable and successful for the whole community," said Rev. Rick Guhl of Allentown. Guhl is affiliated with St. John's UCC Church of Coopersburg.
Traub said the makeup of the committee will have a great deal of positive impact for the NIZ.
"We will help hire Allentonians and minority workers," Traub said. "Each one of the people involved in the committee are involved in the community or are going to be creating the jobs. They're best capable to establish ways to meet the needs of creating jobs at fair wages."
Traub and Diaz said they hope a written report of their findings and recommendations will be submitted to the board in March.
"There won't be a hotel manager in place by March," Traub said. "I would say it would be completed by March at the earliest, before hiring is started."
Sara Hailstone, the city's head of Community and Economic Development, told the board that the arena work is totally under cover for the winter and additional parking solutions are being developed as new businesses move into downtown Allentown.