Opinion: Building Jobs and Inclusive Growth for New Haven

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Originally in the New Haven Independent

We should all be proud of efforts like New Haven Rising’s demand for Yale to hire more New Haven residents. We should also be proud of NAACP’s #WeGotThatWork campaign to ensure that returning citizens have access to jobs. The aspiration of these initiatives – of achieving economic justice and access to opportunities – is on target.

We all know that New Haven does not have enough good quality jobs. I heard this sentiment echoed again and again while speaking to riders on the 238 bus. One young man named Todd told me, ​“I feel like here in New Haven we need to have more job opportunities for people.” I absolutely agree, and want to make this happen by partnering with New Haven Rising and NAACP to bring 50,000 jobs to New Haven in the next decade.

In my role as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, I have been a part of job-building initiatives, including working with the team behind JobsOhio, a workforce development program that created one million jobs over 10 years in Ohio. I’ve led projects that advocate for skills-based hiring, something I will bring to City Hall and that I believe in from my own professional experience.

I’ve worked with government agency heads, city leaders, and national experts. And what I can say is this: New Haven is not living up to its potential when it comes to creating jobs, and the reason is that we don’t have a partner in City Hall.

Take the city of Cambridge for example. Not the one in Massachusetts but in the United Kingdom. Cambridge has 130,000 residents (like us), is 90 minutes from a major city (like us), and home to a renowned higher education institution (like us). One way Cambridge is not like us is that it is responsible for more than 80,000 jobs, 50,000 of which are in the region in high growth industries, and 4,700+ high-tech startups, by prioritizing growth industries and attracting a variety of industry partners.

We have learned from the past that growth alone is not enough, that we need inclusive growth. That means ensuring that our public education system provides career readiness; that we coordinate our workforce development providers; that we ensure diversity and local hiring commitments from private partners. We can do these things and create 50,000 new jobs in the next 10 years by leading in growth industries where we have a right to win — like climate technology, healthcare innovation, and life sciences. As Mayor, I will work to establish the private sector and public sector partnerships to make this happen.

Job opportunities are not just a means to financial security; they also provide critical benefits for our community. They help keep our youth engaged and excited about education and training, and they provide a chance to build important skills like social skills, discipline, self-worth, and character.

The COVID-19 pandemic has only emphasized the need for good jobs in our city. Families have felt the stress of not being able to work and support themselves. As Mayor, I hope to be the partner in City Hall that this city needs to create 50,000 new jobs in the next decade, to provide hope and financial security for our community, and to help build a better future for New Haven.

Tom Goldenberg is a Democratic candidate running for mayor.

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