PATERSON, NJ- An initiative that has already helped more than 200 individuals gain entry into various building trades unions in Jersey City, Newark, and Elizabeth is coming to Paterson, Mayor Andre Sayegh announced at a Monday press conference.
Saying that Paterson’s history runs parallel in many areas to the history labor movement, Sayegh, flanked by several members of the Paterson City Council, labor leaders, and officials from Passaic County College officially launched Project IMPACT to help get the city’s “economic engine running again."
“Employment is empowerment,” Sayegh said adding the program, which will include providing assistance to veterans and minorities prepare for and take apprenticeship entrance exams, will help “position Patersonians to be properly trained for employment opportunities.”
Adding one more piece to the economic empowerment puzzle, Sayegh also officially appointed the well respected Bennie Cook, himself a former Business Agent with Laborers Local 592, as Deputy Mayor of Labor and Workforce Development. Insisting that the position be more than “ceremonial,” Sayegh said, Cook will be put right to work on the initiative that is expected to begin in earnest with a job fair next month.
“We put people to work, that’s what we are going to do in Paterson,” Mark Roche, President of the Passaic County Building Trades Council said, followed by Patrick Kelleher, Business Agent for UA 24, the union that represents workers in the plumbing industry throughout 11 New Jersey counties, who added that their efforts are aimed at helping workers find careers and “giving them the American dream.”
In addition to helping prospective apprenticeships prepare for entrance tests Project Impact will also help them pay for drug tests, develop interviewing skills, and learn about workplace responsibility.
Also speaking at the event was Steven Rose, President of Passaic County Community College (PCCC). Now, he said, is the time for “Paterson to lead again,” when it comes to workforce development. By focusing on “middle skills,” and helping students earn certificates and recognized credentials, the college, and Project IMPACT, will, Rose said, “transform Paterson.”
Calling the launch of the program “a promise made and a promise kept,” Councilwoman Lillisa Mimms, joined by her colleagues Ruby Cotton and Luis Velez said “Paterson is on the rise,” before predicting that if everyone invested in Paterson’s future continues to look forward and accomplish what they’ve set out to do “people will be coming to us for best practices.”
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