DETROIT (WWJ) – Preparing the local workforce for government-funded projects in Detroit was the theme of a summit held in Detroit Monday.

A Workforce Summit was held at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58 hall where U.S. Congressman Gary Peters hosted a panel from IBEW’s, SEMCOG, SMART and construction company Hart and Associates.

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“The reason is that we have a lot of infrastructure projects coming in to the greater Detroit area, and the city of Detroit, in-particular,” said Peters. “Regional transit, inter-modal freight, a new bridge and I want to make sure that the people who are working on those projects are people from the city of Detroit.”

Too often, unless it’s stipulated in contracts, local hires are not working on local projects says Peters.

“Often times when projects come in – these are folks that are coming from other parts of the country and they are not local people. If we are bringing federal money in to the state of Michigan – I want people from the state of Michigan working on those projects,” Peters emphasized.

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By focusing on training programs that are established by unions, the state and others – there is an attempt to change that.

“The state of Michigan is undertaking a couple of really interesting projects,” said Nahed Huck who represented the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments at a Workforce Summit in Detroit.

Huck says it’s called ‘Best Value Contracting’.

“It’s a two-stage contracting process, where they are asked to see how … contractors will address local needs. And then they go into the second-stage where they actually bid on price,” said Huck.

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The state-sponsored community ventures program offers difficult to place employees an opportunity to work with companies that receive reimbursement on a portion of their wages.