City ordinance may give local job seekers first priority on projects

BELLE GLADE, Fla. - Putting locals to work is one of the top priorities for Belle Glade City leaders and now a potential ordinance might help solve the problem.

Lately, finding a job locally has been difficult for people who live in the city.

Electrician Darriel Smith is having trouble finding work in the city, except for odd jobs he does at his church.

"It's an old building so there's a lot of electrical stuff that goes on here," he said.

He's been an electrician for more than 20 years, but only seems to land jobs on projects out of town.

"It makes you feel angry when there are companies that are coming in," he said.

His most recent try to get a job in town was during the construction of the city's new library.

"I did call back in the time period they told me and they ended up saying they weren't taking anybody on, but I am seeing this building go up," Smith said.

When projects like constructing the library come to Belle Glade, the city is now looking to make an ordinance to make sure their local workers get their fair shot at the job.

St. John First Missionary Baptist Church pastor Patrick Rease is one city leader pushing for the "First Source" ordinance.

"One of the reasons why you want to bring business to this area is to impact the employment level," he said. "But if what we've done in the past has not done it than we need to look at something else."

The city is still drafting the ordinance, but it would ask businesses to look at local prospects for jobs for 15 days before looking elsewhere.

"We'll make sure that whatever qualifications or job description there are that they'll have a pool of qualified individuals who they can look at," Rease said.

"Do you  feel that this would scare away businesses," NewsChannel 5's Ryan Calhoun asked.

"It's not set up to demand a certain number of employees. It's just asking to give us a fair chance," he responded.

Hopefully helping people like Smith find actual work closer to home.


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