by Gregory Davis
On September 25th a gathering occurred in Rainier Beach where the talk was about how to create jobs in the neighborhood. The event was held at the Somali Community Center right off of Renton Avenue South and Henderson Street and hosted by Rainier Beach Moving Forward. Not sure when the last time something like this occurred and I’ve been doing work in RB since 1999. By all indication the ideas offered up were cutting edge, realistic and in progress. All told the ideas promised to create over 1,000 local jobs with most of those occurring in the next 18-24 months. Mind you these ideas were generated by folks doing work in the Rainier Beach neighborhood…..you better go tell somebody….!
Job creation strategies identified in Rainier Beach for Rainier Beach:
- Hold meetings like this on a regular base where report outs of job activity in the neighborhood get made…Authors note: I project that this practice would be good for no less than 10 jobs per year.
- For any project that is meant for the people “in an actual sense” talk to those people. Engage the community directly….Author’s note: I project 20 jobs per year from this practice
- Have an organization that assists businesses with technical assistance that can help businesses expand….Author’s note: I project 10 jobs per year here
- Bring new businesses into the area, that satisfies the desires for goods and services the people in Rainier Beach have….Author’s note: 5 jobs per year
- Allow growth to be organic, not predetermined by a public entity, than figure out the roles of the stakeholders (public, private and nonprofits) e.g., government should create the conditions to make it easier for investors to come in and entrepreneurs to thrive…..shall I say…5 jobs
- Entrepreneurial Live Work, home based businesses…the investor for this idea projects 36 jobs
- The neighborhood must reach a level of subsistence…where subsistence and sustainability cross you will get fully supported systems that will support each other…..I say 5 jobs
- Utilize the product innovators in the Rainier Valley and ignite a “maker movement” where ideation energy and ideation scale are matched…the presenter of this idea says 18 maker shops and 500 jobs
- Don’t bring projects to the community unless you are going to hire local people…the coalition organizing around this idea and very close to winning says 500 jobs in 5 years
- Retention programs….10 jobs??
That is over 1,000 jobs from ideas from the neighborhood!
Now before you get ahead of yourself and start critiquing these ideas to no end and possibly out of existence, lets first understand these are ideas from people who are actually putting in energy and investments as we speak . These are not pie in the sky notions. However to bring “reason” to the proceedings the job creators where asked what are good job creation success measures , here is what they said:
Success measures for job creation in the Rainier Beach neighborhood:
- Number of businesses retained…semi-annual reporting
- That any physical development is active, bustling, well used, well-loved and financially feasible….15 years after it starts
- Race and Social Justice principles are used by the business…annual review
- Dollars businesses invested in themselves…annual reporting
- Dollars being leveraged and translated into increased profitability and productivity…annual report
- The number of jobs in the businesses and number of new jobs…annual report
- The increase in the number of small businesses able to produce financial statements and performance reports…annual report
- Number of new business attracted to the neighborhood… annual report
- Number of live work unites…annual report
- Number of maker spaces online and jobs as a result…annual report
- Number of jobs through public work projects…annual report
FYI – The organizers of this event Rainier Beach Moving Forward, in coordinating this event, along with Southeast Effective Development (SEED) listened to the neighborhood who said they need to take these events to the people in the neighborhood….thus it being held at the Somali Community Center. So they called this gathering the “roaming RB Town Hall the first in a series. RBMF is seeking communities of color and immigrant refugee communities to host future “roaming” town halls. Some keen thinking is going on in Rainier Beach. Rainier Beach is a cool place. Stay tuned ! Go to www.rbmvoingforward.org to read who the idea/job generators are.
Written by Gregory Davis, Chair Rainier Beach Community Empowerment Coalition and member of RBMF Steering Committee.