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$6B in Greater Cleveland construction activity creating job opportunities, challenges diverse workers

Cleveland—A study commissioned by a public-private partnership working to increase participation by diverse and City of Cleveland residents in Greater Cleveland construction projects has found significant long-term job opportunities based on $6.2 billion in planned projects. However, there is also a workforce gap that is creating a challenge to fill those jobs. The study’s key findings include:
  • Capital spending for major projects during 2014 and 2015 are projected to be over $6.2 billion for a five-county area. Each of these projects in Cuyahoga, Summit Lorain, Medina and Lake counties have an estimated construction value of $1 million or more.

  • Given the Memorandum of Understanding, that produced a community benefits agreement, there is a desire by the public-private collaboration to increase local workers participation, and there is an opportunity to increase training for City of Cleveland residents where representation in the ranks of the skilled trades is low.

  • Skilled labor for major projects is aging and younger workers are needed to replace them at the rate they will retire. With the 3- 5 year training process (from pre-apprenticeship to journeyman), continued action is needed to ensure that the training pipeline for replacement workers is functioning effectively.

  • Although ethnic minorities and women currently participate in apprenticeship programs, there is an opportunity through training to expand diversity of the workforce over the next decade as more skilled workers retire.

The Demand Study for Construction Employees was prepared by Mohr Partners Cleveland in collaboration with W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research and Weber Murphy Fox at the request of the Construction Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Commission on Economic Inclusion, a program of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.

The committee is charged with the ongoing implementation of Community Benefit Agreements as a Greater Cleveland economic development priority including the creation of a robust pipeline of women and minority workers for the construction industry.

Next steps

The committee will leverage the results of the Demand Study to guide its strategy and work. Toward the goal of developing a training pipeline, the Pre-Apprenticeship & Training Committee, has launched a pilot program, supported by multiple community stakeholders including: the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, The Cleveland Building & Construction Trades Council, Towards Employment, El Barrio and Cuyahoga Community College. It has graduated 17 individuals (women and minorities) with the goal of being placed into the Building Trades Union Apprenticeship programs and other construction related jobs.

“We have a chance to play a leadership role in ensuring that people from underrepresented communities have a chance to earn a job and build a career” said Urban League President Marsha Mockabee.

The study also estimates that construction activity is likely to remain strong in both 2016 and 2017 at nearly $2 billion each year. It is anticipated that many of these projects will pay prevailing wages (Organized Labor standard for wages).

“My goal is to have the Owners of these projects commit to prevailing wages to be a true community benefit. There is a real opportunity to help increase the demand for new workers thereby providing meaningful career opportunities” said Dave Wondolowski, executive secretary to the Cleveland Building and Construction Trades Council

The Demand Study was made possible with funding from the City of Cleveland and the Cleveland Foundation with support from The George Gund Foundation and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District. It is available upon request.


About the Commission on Economic Inclusion
The Commission on Economic Inclusion is a program of the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP). Its mission is "to significantly improve the level of inclusion-the meaningful involvement of minority businesses and individuals-in the economic engines that drive Northeast Ohio." 

About the Greater Cleveland Partnership
The Greater Cleveland Partnership mobilizes private-sector leadership, expertise and resources to create attractive business conditions that create jobs, grow investment and improve the economic prosperity of the region.