King County Launches $3 Million Program to boost Construction Jobs
NEWS: King County awards two major grants as part of $3 million local priority hire program with cities and other public entities to boost construction jobs
SUMMARY Executive Constantine announced today the awarding of two grants, totaling $800,000, for priority hire projects that will be led by the Highline School District and the City of SeaTac. The funding is part of a new $3 million grant program to support cities, towns, school districts, and other public entities that have an interest in developing local priority hire programs to build a more representative and reflective workforce in the construction industry. STORY Executive Constantine announced today the City of SeaTac and Highline School District as the first funding recipients of the newly developed priority hire grant program, an initiative that will award a total of $3 million through 2024 to support local jurisdictions in establishing their own priority hire programs. Priority Hire is a workforce and economic development strategy that provides training and family-wage employment opportunities in the construction industry. Highline School District and the City of SeaTac have been awarded funding for local construction projects that will utilize the Priority Hire framework to ensure that workers are hired from economically distressed zip codes in King County. The City of SeaTac plans to utilize the $300,000 grant as part of the larger $15 million 34th Avenue South Phase 2 Project which will not only improve pedestrian safety but will also increase multi-modal transportation with a Complete Streets design. The Highline School District will invest $500,000 toward a project to demolish and build a new and improved Tyee High School. This project will also include a newly passed pilot Community Workforce Agreement. "Priority hire is a critical workforce and economic development strategy that provides people access to good-paying careers and a path to long-term economic security, while building a diverse workforce in the trades that reflects our communities," said Executive Constantine. "I am pleased that the City of SeaTac and Highline School District have chosen to join King County by investing in opportunities that allow our residents - and our region - to thrive. I encourage other cities and school districts to apply for available grants to begin their own Priority Hire programs and foster stable communities and long-term prosperity." “I’m thrilled at the unanimous support of the Council and the opportunity to assist, as a City, in training and developing our new generation of union building trades’ members,” said SeaTac Mayor Jake Simpson. “By creating a local Community Workforce Agreement with priority hire, we will propel our community members to success and improve their quality of work and quality of life. We are grateful to King County Executive Dow Constantine and County staff for offering the funding to ensure the program’s success and we appreciate the leadership of the trade organizations and SeaTac’s Public Works team for collaborating to launch this program.” "This grant supports our Highline promise for every student to graduate prepared for the future they choose,” said Ivan Duran, Highline Superintendent. “It will provide greater opportunities for our students and families to obtain living wage jobs and apprenticeships in their own community." “This is a historic project because it includes a Community Workforce Agreement and a commitment to increase equity and economic opportunity for workers through apprenticeship and Priority Hire,” said Monty Anderson, Executive Secretary of the Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council, “We believe job sites should reflect the community. Through our top-notch training programs and partnerships, we are helping build the next generation of construction workers from our local communities. The CWA at Tyee will help bring more women, people of color, veterans, and others who are disadvantaged into construction jobs and careers." The new grant program builds off the success of King County’s Priority Hire program – a workforce and economic development strategy established in 2016 that fosters opportunities for good-paying careers in the construction industry on King County public work projects of $5 million or more. One of Priority Hire’s main goals has been to increase retention rates and broaden access to apprenticeships and family-wage jobs for women and people of color. Funding for the new grant program comes from Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery funds extended to King County as part of the federal ARPA. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis and the process will close when all the funds have been awarded. For more information, applicants should visit the Priority Hire Grant Program webpage.