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Building Sustainable Communities

A collective effort to train and grow the region ’ s workforce By Bill Sessa

In an effort to provide an economic uplift to Sacramento neighborhoods that have historically struggled with a lack of jobs and career opportunities , the Sacramento Black Chamber of Commerce has tried a new approach — and has found there is strength in numbers . Through its Sustainable Communities Collaborative , the SBCC has found partners willing to join forces to create new career opportunities in a changing economy that also aim to improve the community ’ s long-term quality of life .

“ We are targeting residents looking to emerge from poverty and integrate
into the new economy ,” says Tyrone Williams , deputy executive director of development of the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency , one of the Collaborative ’ s six partners . That includes a focus on projects involving sustainable energy , an industry Williams says people of color are not typically integrated into .
The Collaborative ’ s success required a change from typical job training programs that are often disconnected from the hiring process . “ We wanted people to go to work immediately , so we found the employers first and then designed
the training ” around the Collaborative ’ s members , which include SMUD , UC Davis , the Greater Sacramento Urban League and some energy-related companies , Williams says . That approach opened up doors for job placement “ and people knew that if they completed the training , they would likely be hired on the spot .”
“ Bringing these groups together helps us do more to create jobs than we can do on our own ,” says Jose Bodipo-Memba , who directs SMUD ’ s Sustainable Communities program . “ It ’ s a more holistic way of creating jobs and helps us meet our zero-carbon goal by 2030 .”
16 comstocksmag . com | November 2021