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Orange Introduces Jobs Czar Legislation

Dorothy Rowley | , WI Staff Writer | 9/20/2011, 1:09 p.m.
At-Large Council member Vincent Orange's proposal is aimed at reducing unemployment among D.C. residents./Courtesy Photo

At-Large Council member Vincent Orange has introduced legislation he believes will bring a significant reduction to the District's burgeoning unemployment rate.

By August joblessness in the District had increased by 0.3 percent -- and now hovers at 11.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"This proposed legislation will serve to declare war on unemployment by creating, developing and training a workforce ready to connect with job opportunities within the District of Columbia," Orange said in a statement issued this week by his office. "In addition, this legislation will serve to alleviate the concerns of unemployed District residents by putting into action a plan to defeat unemployment."

Titled the "Office of the Jobs Czar Establishment Act of 2011," the proposal will have the authority to impose a monthly penalty up to $10,000 against contractors for noncompliance with First Source -- a District mandate which requires all projects funded in whole or in part with District of Columbia funds, to ensure increased employment opportunities D.C. residents. The jobs czar will have the authority to impose a monthly penalty up to $10,000 against contractors for noncompliance with First Source.

The Jobs Czar Office will be directed by an individual called the Jobs Czar, who will be responsible for reducing unemployment in the city. While the czar will serve at the pleasure of the mayor, the appointee will be advised by the City Council. Because the District expects to generate in excess of 30,000 jobs over the next decade, the jobs czar's services will be largely depended on to produce a workforce prepared to meet the demands of those job projections.

A committee aligned with the Jobs Czar Office will serve to create, develop and train a workforce ready to connect with job opportunities within the District. Among its members will be the deputy mayor for economic development, president of the University of the District of Columbia, chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools system, executive director of the District of Columbia Community College, director of the Department of Employment Services as well as the director for the D.C. Department of Small and Local Business Development.