Guest Commentator: Nicole Westerman, Executive Director Rebuilding Community Infrastructure (Rebuild) #RebuildPHL

How will the City’s Rebuild investment promote economic opportunity for every Philadelphian?

Rebuild is a $500 million investment to transform neighborhoods, one recreation center, park and library at a time. Proposed by Mayor Jim Kenney as part of his vision for a more equitable Philadelphia, Rebuild is an ambitious public works program. We expect to renovate more than 150 community spaces in neighborhoods with the greatest need and at sites that will have the greatest impact. Rebuild’s plan prioritizes listening to community members about design and programming and working with them, shoulder-to-shoulder, to ensure that their community facility is a place they want to use and support.

But Rebuild wants to do more than make physical improvements with the support of an engaged and empowered community; we will also promote economic opportunity. Striving towards a Philadelphia where everyone has a fair chance at providing for their family or growing their business, no matter which neighborhood they call home, is at least as important.

For too long, Philadelphia’s construction industry has struggled to diversify and city construction contracts have gone to the same players. Rebuild wants to include more Philadelphians in this historic investment in design and construction work. Our approach is two-fold.

In partnership with Philadelphia Works, we’re launching PHL Pipeline, an apprentice-ready workforce program to help minorities and women in Philadelphia neighborhoods start a family-sustaining career in a skilled labor job. This program will provide paid work experience, test preparation and other supports to individuals who want to work in the construction industry. For Philadelphians with experience in a skilled trade, but no union card, the City of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority will provide other avenues for skilled jobs.

We will also be launching a business supports program in partnership with Talson Solutions. Through our program, we will work with minority-, women- and disabled-owned businesses to become more competitive for professional service or construction contracts, starting with Rebuild projects. This program will help small, local businesses become “Rebuild Ready” by helpin