By Sam Williford, Associate Consultant
While last week’s drop in unemployment was the first substantial good
news for the economy in months (if not years), it underscores the work
still that needs to be done to help the 12 million Americans unemployed
as of last month.
I have had the opportunity at Fels Research and Consulting to work on this critical issue on various projects during the past year. The ability to work on real and meaningful projects is certainly one of the hallmarks of this position, as shown in the following projects.
Recently, Fels completed work with the Annie E. Casey Foundation on job-centered employer-driven economic development (a final designed copy is expected to be published in the next couple of months), which examined how private employers could hire and advance low skill, low wage workers. Over the summer, Fels worked with Select Greater Philadelphia on the Talent Dividend Challenge, which seeks to increase college graduation rates at institutions in the city of Philadelphia. Most recently, Fels is working with the Wyomissing Foundation and the City of Reading, PA on entrepreneurial development strategies to promote economic growth.
Even while faced with less financial resources in a tough economic climate (for example, funding for federal worker training programs has been cut substantially the past few years), there are still multitudes of opportunities for the public sector to work with the private sector to create opportunity. Examples found thus far include Metropolitan College (sponsored by UPS and the City of Louisville), Project REACH (initially a federal grant recipient that is now self-funded by Johns Hopkins), Penn Medicine Academy and the employer partnerships with Peirce College here in Philadelphia are just a few of the exemplary examples I have had the wonderful opportunity to document.
While there are certainly programs and endeavors to celebrate, it doesn’t change the fact that there is still much to be done. As the aforementioned programs show, Fels Research and Consulting will continue to do its part to find answers to the issues of economic development for local governments and non-profit institutions.