Erie, PA – Governor Wolf today visited Erie where he joined local government officials and members of the African American community to discuss racial disparities and challenges facing the African-American community. The governor was joined by Erie’s County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, Mayor Joe Schember, city and county council members, as well as community, business and religious leaders for a listening session at Climate Changers Inc. and to discuss his job training and economic development initiatives.
“I want to hear directly from the people of Erie about the issues that are important to them and discuss the investments my administration is making to grow the economy and create jobs,” said Governor Wolf. “It is important that many different communities have a voice and I was thankful to hear the perspective of several leaders in the African American community.”
As Erie leaders make it a priority to identify strategies to reduce reported racial inequalities, Governor Wolf highlighted specific statewide initiatives. In 2015, the governor signed an executive order to improve the participation of small and diverse businesses – minority-, women-, LGBT-, veteran- and disabled-owned business – in state government contracting and the commonwealth’s overall economy. As part of the effort, the commonwealth held a public hearing in Erie on January 31, one of several hearings held across Pennsylvania, to hear from small and small diverse businesses about the barriers they face when attempting to get a state contract.
To help workers gain the skills for today’s in-demand jobs, Governor Wolf has proposed PAsmart, a $50 million investment in workforce training. The governor also created the Apprenticeship Training Office within the Department of Labor and Industry in 2016 to expand apprenticeship opportunities. Since the ATO launched, 90 new apprenticeship programs have been created with 2,917 new apprentices, bringing the total number of registered programs to 757 and the total number of registered apprentices to 15,175 statewide.
Prior to the listening session, Governor Wolf toured Climate Changers Inc., home of the anti-recidivism Total Change Program. The program was previously awarded a $210,000 grant from the Neighborhood Assistance Program, which is administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development.
Last year, Governor Wolf announced the Fair-Chance hiring policy for state agencies that will remove the criminal conviction question, otherwise known as “banning the box,” from non-civil service employment applications for agencies under the governor’s jurisdiction. This allows prospective applicants with criminal records to be judged on their skills and qualifications and not solely on their criminal history, while preserving a hiring agency’s ability to appropriately screen applicants as part of the hiring process.