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Sen. Gillibrand Introduces Legislation Requiring Local Hiring for Infrastructure Projects

Scott Willis

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made a stop in Syracuse Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reverse decades of segregation and limited opportunity caused by I-81 through the city. 

Her “Build Local, Hire Local Act” would require any future federal infrastructure projects like the replacement for 81 to reserve at least half of the jobs for local residents. 

"The targeted hiring requirements of my bill would combine with an investment in job-training-like apprenticeships to give more workers in every community the necessary skills, and to clear a pathway for high-quality infrastructure jobs."

The legislation would also require federal projects to give contracting opportunities to minority and women-owned businesses like JHP Industrial Supply in Syracuse, where she made today’s announcement.  Research by The Urban Jobs Task Force and Legal Services of CNY illustrates why the federal government might need some hiring targets. Task Force President Deka Dancil says geographical and racial disparities are deeply rooted in the construction trades industry.

Credit Scott Willis / WAER News
A view of the I-81 viaduct looking north.

"What this means is that if the project were to start tomorrow, only a very small number of Syracuse city residents would be able to work on the project. It can be a local job changer, but only if the New York State Department of Transportation makes an intentional effort toward local hire, and this bill is one way to do just that."

Parts of Gillibrand’s Build Local, Hire Local Act are included in a larger transportation bill, which she says has bi-partisan support.  She hopes it can be passed by year’s end.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at