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Allentown job seekers could get a helping hand

By Len Righi, WFMZ.com Reporter
Published On: Nov 06 2013 08:47:24 PM CST
ACIDA
ALLENTOWN, Pa. -

A group of Allentown residents are making a headway in a push to have job seekers in the city get first crack at new positions in the downtown Neighborhood Improvement Zone.

Seymour Traub, chairman of the Allentown Neighborhood Improvement Zone Development Authority, announced Wednesday afternoon that he would form a "task group" to study what actions The Authority could take to give Allentown residents a leg up in getting the new jobs.

Traub said he expected the task group would have recommendations in two or three months.

Traub spoke in a conference room in City Hall, where almost two dozen people showed up wearing signs attached to cloth lanyards reading "Jobs Committee" and "$100,000."

Among the people wearing the signs were activists who have been lobbying The Authority for several months to find ways to make developers in the NIZ give preferential treatment to downtown residents looking for jobs.

The "$100,000" sign referred to a request the activists made yesterday that The Authority spend $100,000 on a full-time caseworker for the Allentown Employment and Training Center at Lehigh Carbon Community College's Donley Campus near 7th and Hamilton streets.

The center opened on Labor Day with $100,000 in Authority money. 

Traub said he would consider putting the request for another $100,000 on next month's agenda.

He also directed ANIZDA executive director Sara Hailstone to meet with Nancy Dischinat, executive director of the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, about the need for a full-time caseworker at the jobs center.

In announcing his intention to form the task group, Traub said group members would look into how Allentown residents could be paid a fair wage without deterring development in the NIZ.

He said four members of the group would be Authority members, with the rest being a combination of developers' representatives and city residents.

After the meeting, Traub told WFMZ.com that there will likely be 11 members on the task group.