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Stothert agrees to funds for training

Stothert agrees to funds for training

Mayor backs Jerram's plan to add $400,000 for jobs program after he pulled part of proposal

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Mayor Jean Stothert has agreed to appropriate an additional $400,000 for job training as proposed by City Councilman Chris Jerram.

Stothert will add $400,000 to her 2016 budget for Heartland Workforce Solutions, the nonprofit program created by the city to administer Omaha's federal job training funds.

The money will be used to expand job training for unemployed and underemployed Omaha residents, Jerram told council members Tuesday.

Marty Bilek, Stothert's chief of staff, said the Mayor's Office will work with the council to determine details of the program and participants.

Jerram proposed a job training initiative after concerns arose about the shortage of city contracts and jobs going to north and South Omahans in connection with Omaha's ongoing $2 billion sewer overhaul.

Stothert embraced the idea of increasing job training but had questions about the scope and details of Jerram's proposal.

Stothert and Jerram came to an agreement on the proposal announced Tuesday. Jerram withdrew a proposed ordinance that would have allowed the city to offset city contractors' costs of hiring and training workers who live in high-poverty, high-unemployment neighbor-hoods or who receive food stamps or Medicaid.

The job training program will need council approval, but is likely to receive a warm reception from council members.

Councilman Ben Gray said he will challenge Omaha business leaders to add more support to allow the programs to expand further.

In a statement, Jerram said the program is "a game changer for Omahans living in poverty."

"This job training appropriation delivers on the promise to give a lifting hand and new hope to many who feel forgotten and gives our partner, Heartland Workforce Solutions, the funds necessary to help many more people find good paying jobs," Jerram said.

In a statement, Stothert said many people will have the chance to find living wage jobs through the program. "We all agree that expanding job training and placement services can have a tremendous impact on our community," she said.

Contact the writer:

christopher.burbach@owh.com 402-444-1057, twitter.com/chrisburbach

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