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Mayor Vincent C. Gray Announces Launch of forWARD 8
Mayor Vincent C. Gray Announces Launch of forWARD 8
(WASHINGTON, DC) – Mayor Vincent C. Gray, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Victor L. Hoskins and Interim Office of Planning (OP) Director Rosalynn Hughey today announced the launch of “forWARD 8: Investing in Our Future,” awarding $2.5 million to support a package of District-led career-training and business-development projects for Ward 8 residents.
“The forWARD 8 initiative will do exactly what its name implies – move Ward 8 forward through close partnerships between District agencies and the community,” said Mayor Gray. “This initiative will help Ward 8 residents find jobs, build careers and create new businesses.”
The winning projects were created in direct response to issues identified at three Ward 8 Community Summits held over the past three years. The projects focus on preparing and connecting Ward 8 residents to jobs, while building skills and laying the groundwork for new business development within the community. The projects support Ward 8 economic development and leverage the District’s One City Action Plan and Five-Year Economic Development Strategy.
Mayor Gray and District agencies met with Ward 8 residents at the July 2011 Ward 8 Community Summit to identify pressing needs in the community. At a follow-up summit held in June 2012, Mayor Gray introduced the Ward 8 Budget Challenge, a call for District agencies to propose innovative pilot projects to address those issues. Agencies were encouraged to collaborate on proposals incorporating community involvement and input from the July 2011 Summit. Over the past year OP has worked with other agencies to further develop those proposals and maximize agency collaboration.
The winning forWARD 8 projects include:
• The Demonstration Center ($1.75 million): The Demonstration Center will be an entrepreneurship, workforce development, career and job-readiness portal for Ward 8, connecting residents and local businesses to the innovation and technology economy and to educational programs such as the Center for Construction Careers. The Demonstration Center will feature multi-user office space; a Digital Inclusion Center with a state-of-the-art computer lab offering computer training for seniors, small businesses and others; and a flexibly designed demonstration, entrepreneurship and career conference area designed to host a range of programs. Much like the Gateway DC pavilion on the St. Elizabeths East Campus, the Demonstration Center will be developed as an “interim” use for the campus and is expected to operate for approximately 10 years as the permanent Innovation Hub area is developed. The Demonstration Center will lay the foundations for the permanent hub and accelerate job creation and business development linkages. Key partners with the Demonstration Center are the University of the District of Columbia’s Community College and the District’s Office of Chief Technology Officer.
• The Center for Construction Careers ($350,000): The Center for Construction Careers is a career-training initiative by the Department of Employment Services (DOES). Its goal is to train and place 30-40 Ward 8 residents in skilled construction jobs. The program will be headquartered at the Center for American Jobs in Congress Heights and will leverage One City ● One Hire, existing First Source laws and the new Workforce Intermediary to ensure placement of residents who complete the training. DOES is partnering with the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to connect Ward 8 residents with opportunities presented by the $113 million in infrastructure construction for the St. Elizabeths East Campus set to begin this year.
• Culinary and Entrepreneurship Training ($360,000): The Culinary Skills Training Program, a partnership between DOES and OP, will provide a highly skilled workforce to the District’s growing food, beverage and hospitality industry. The initiative will provide training, including a classroom study and kitchen basics, advanced culinary methods and an externship in which participants will be matched with local dining establishments or catering businesses throughout the city. Separately, DOES also will provide general entrepreneurship training across all sectors to Ward 8 residents.
• Ward 8 Business Directory ($40,000): The Ward 8 Business Directory will highlight businesses arranged by category to further support small-business development in Ward 8, a priority highlighted in the Congress Heights, Anacostia, Saint Elizabeths (CHASE) Action Agenda and Implementation Blueprint currently underway.
“We relied on partnership on every level to create forWARD 8,” said OP Interim Director Hughey. “We began with what we heard from Ward 8 residents at the summits and created solutions through intense teamwork across agencies. The collaborative spirit will continue as we implement these critical steps in Ward 8’s economic development.”