CAMDEN, NJ — Since the October 2019 launch of Camden Works, a four-year private pilot to train locals and find them gainful employment, 314 residents have earned jobs at city-based entities.
The figures were outlined in a letter from Kris Kolluri, president and CEO of Cooper's Ferry Partnership, sent Monday to Camden Mayor Frank Moran, City Council President Curtis Jenkins and Congressman Donald Norcross.
"Further, at least 1,426 Camden residents are working in facilities receiving tax incentives, which represents an increase of 166 jobs since similar data was last gathered and released publicly in April 2019," reads an excerpt from the letter.
The program was launched by the State of New Jersey National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Cooper’s Ferry Partnership, Latin America Economic Development Association, Center for Family Services, Hopeworks and Camden County Workforce Investment Board.
"These six managing partners will soon begin to streamline the hiring process for Camden residents, companies, and job training programs," county officials said at the time of the launch.
Since Camden Works took off, 314 Camden residents were provided jobs throughout the city. Fields employment was provided in are outlined in the pictured graph.
Kolluri acknowledged that impacts on the economy such as COVID-19 won't be fully felt yet.
"There is little doubt that we will experience economic headwinds; the impact on state and regional Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will negatively impact Camden businesses and the unemployment rate," he continued in the letter. "Such uncertainties are clearly beyond our control. We are determined to stay the course in creating a more inclusive, strong and sustainable Camden through our long-term employment effort, which is within our control."
Camden Works organizers clarified that Camden Works is not meant to subvert individual employer and private placement efforts to hire residents in the city or county.
Instead, they said it is part of "a collective approach" to provide complementary resources such as a resident-focused website with an employer partner informed job portal, individual casework support, job fairs, community information sessions, soft skills training, employment opportunity identification and placement.
"In just three months we have learned many lessons and are constantly striving to recalibrate our approach to achieving our objective in the most efficient manner," Kolluri said. "Clearly in a strong job market some residents are able to navigate the job portal on their own and find employment while those with barriers need training, guidance and assistance."