CDOT Trains Local Talent for Central I-70 Project

📅   Wed July 19, 2017 - West Edition #15
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Officials cut the ribbon on the Neighborhood Career Training and Resource Center.
Officials cut the ribbon on the Neighborhood Career Training and Resource Center.
Officials cut the ribbon on the Neighborhood Career Training and Resource Center.

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Speaker Crisanta Duran, members of Denver City Council, city officials, Gary Community Investments (GCI), Community College of Denver (CCD), Emily Griffith Technical College and construction training providers gathered to celebrate the opening of a new Neighborhood Career Training and Resource Center in the Elyria-Swansea neighborhood. A new, unique investment from GCI also will bring additional job training and support programs to local residents along the I-70 East corridor.

The training center and foundation investment will support a first-in-Colorado local hire program requiring that 20 percent of the Central 70 work force — the equivalent of approximately 350 local residents — be hired from 15 local neighborhoods adjacent to I-70 in Denver and Aurora. Last year the U.S. Department of Transportation gave CDOT — one of only nine other transportation agencies nationwide — permission to pilot a local-hire program for Central 70.

“The Central 70 Project is by itself a major economic driver for the entire Denver-metro region. CDOT wanted to also ensure that these economic and job opportunities were made available to local residents,” said Shailen Bhatt, CDOT executive director. “CDOT is one of only a few DOTs in the nation to implement local hiring and we are doing this not just by setting hiring goals but by actively reaching out to our partners to create a comprehensive support system that makes a career in construction accessible for everyone.”

“This is a phenomenal collaboration between CDOT, the city and so many great Denver partners that begins to fulfill the promise to our residents to open up access to the opportunities that are created by the reconstruction and development planned in this area,” said Hancock. “I believe public projects should invest in their communities and that is the value we see in action today. This workforce center is a critical step to providing local, long-time residents with good homes, access to resources to live healthy lives, and training that will equal job placement. This center is a beacon of empowerment for our people and critical support for our neighborhoods.”

This spring, GCI joined in this work by investing more than $1 million in job training and support programs, marking the first time CDOT has partnered with a private foundation.

“GCI takes a two-generation approach to investing that includes helping low-income families increase their financial security,” said Dave Younggren, president & CEO of GCI. “We are proud to partner with CCD, CDOT and others who are working hard to ensure that residents living along the I-70 corridor benefit from the economic development happening around them. By providing access to job training and support services, this program will help local families increase their earning potential, which will positively impact their children's education, health and future economic outcomes.”

The neighborhood career training and resource center will offer six courses with a flexible training schedule in a facility with three work bays, four hands-on training rooms and a yard designated for heavy equipment. The center also will host networking opportunities, including job fairs for construction careers, access to CDOT maintenance job listings and, beginning in 2018, outreach for Central 70 job openings. Funding from GCI will support additional training classes along with support programs, like child care, that are critical to securing and retaining jobs in the construction industry.

The efforts began in early 2017 so that local residents will be qualified to apply for Central 70 jobs as they become available when construction starts in 2018. Also in partnership with CDOT, the city and GCI are the National Western Center, CDD, Emily Griffith Technical College, Colorado Contractors Association and Associated General Contractors.

About the Central 70 Project

The Central 70 Project will improve safety, mobility and community connections along one of Colorado's most congested interstate corridors. The project includes removing the 50-year old viaduct, lowering a section of I-70 below grade and constructing a 4-acre cover over the interstate. One new express lane in each direction will be added between Brighton Blvd. and Chambers Road.

A Record of Decision (ROD), completing a 14-year study process, was released on Jan. 19, 2017, approving the project to move forward with construction. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2018.

For more information, visit central70.codot.gov.

About Gary Community Investments

Gary Community Investments, which includes The Piton Foundation, invests in for-profit and philanthropic solutions for Colorado's low-income children and their families. It was founded by Denver oilman Sam Gary with the belief that business and philanthropy can — and should — work together to create opportunities for those who need it most.

Gary Community Investments is committed to investing in quality early childhood and youth development systems, expanding sustainable economic opportunities, and developing and supporting programs that create healthy family and community environments.

For more information, visit www.garycommunity.org.