by Tyronda James
Recently, Mayor Lovely A. Warren released chapter three of the 2021 State of the City, discussing jobs for city families and the local economy as part of the Equity and Recovery Agenda.
The episode highlighted over 4,900 jobs created since 2014 in city neighborhoods for roads, bridges, libraries, and R-Centers. It also highlighted the more than $2.4 billion from private investments in Rochester since Mayor Warren took office, accounting for an additional 5,600 jobs each year.
“The best way to lift families up and defeat poverty is by creating more jobs,” said Mayor Warren. “We have been intentional about putting people to work through our infrastructure investments and leveraging those dollars to spur even more private investment to generate additional jobs.”
While highlighting the city’s success before the pandemic hit, she also discussed challenges experienced by local employers and workers over the past year and the City’s efforts to help keep local businesses afloat. Warren said many businesses have received funds through the Rochester Business Emergency Retention Grant program, over $1.2 million.
“We were able to help these businesses pay their unpaid rent, their unpaid utilities, unpaid insurance and other costs that they normally could not pay for,” said director of Strategic Business Development for the City, Thaddeus Schofield.
Mayor Warren said it was a priority to help local employers and their employees during the pandemic. “We knew from the start that the restrictions due to COVID were going to threaten the livelihoods of our small business owners,” she said. “That’s why we streamlined the application and payment processes for these grants.”
Warren has consistently fought for healthcare workers and proposes to improve their living wage, and has been working with local unions, health care advocates and the Rochester Monroe Anti-Poverty Initiative (RMAPI). Both the UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health have announced a $15.00 per-hour minimum wage for their medical system employees, possible through ERA agenda dividends.
“When we focus on equity and we raise the bar, we’ve proven that we can deliver a living wage for our residents who are doing essential, life-saving work and provide dignity and kindness to the patients being cared for,” Warren said.
She said the proposal to increase healthcare worker wages was deeply personal. Warren’s mother, Elrita, who recently passed away, was a healthcare worker for most of her career. Thus, fighting for fair wage for those who continue in her mother’s line of work was tremendously important.
Warren also plans to partner with local leaders and state delegation to advocate for a $15.00 minimum wage for workers across the State.
Wage increase, increased employment, minority-owned business expansion are just some ways the city hopes to change lives. Rochester’s Environmental Job Training Program (ReJob) has provided training to many, securing employment in the environmental construction field. The Office of Community Wealth Building (OCWB), established in 2018 has also made notable progress improving the lives of city residents, financially and helped fulfill dreams of many owning businesses. OCWB’s FastTrac and Nexus i90 programs nurtures new and growing entrepreneurs with access to a network of business leaders and resources to realize or expand their business goals.
“The success of the Mayor’s Office of Community Wealth Buildings shows that when we are intentional about helping people who have suffered from systemic racism, we can make progress toward equity,” Warren said. “The ERA agenda will build on this success by creating a new generation of entrepreneurs that will create jobs and lift up even more of our families.”
Amid the pandemic, OCWB also provided financial education to 580 families helping to reduce over $200,000 in debt and increase their savings by $200,000, collectively.
“Over 100 million dollars of investments happening right now in the most challenged part of the city on purpose. We may be in a pandemic but we haven’t forgotten about you,” Warren said.
“We don’t plan to be worse off on the other side of this, we plan to be able to hit the ground running and never look back.”
The State of the City video series will continue next month. The video series, as well as the ERA Agenda can be found at cityofrochester.gov/SOTC2021. The videos can also be accessed on the City’s Facebook and YouTube pages.