Penguins pleased with overall Consol employment

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As new employees were still learning their way around the now completed Consol Energy Center, Penguins representatives held a final community meeting on the status of minority inclusion, especially inclusion of Hill District residents. Overall, they said the numbers were good.

Penguins President David Morehouse said despite some tension early on, there was good collaboration that yielded positive results.

“I’m proud to welcome you to the best building in the country and we look forward to being a catalyst for more development,” he said. “I’m proud that we came in ahead of schedule and under budget, but I’m especially proud of the number of jobs we’ve created for Hill residents in this building.”

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WORKING ON THE HILL—Ken Nesbit of the Hill First Resource Center presents employment data for jobs at the Consol Energy Center as Penguins consultant Ron Porter, Ron Moody and Clarence Curry look on.

During the Aug. 3 meeting consultants and partners reported on overall construction inclusion, subsequent employment in the arena and recruitment and hiring for the adjacent hotel, still under construction.

Clarence Curry, the MWGEP coordinator for the SEA, as he had in previous meetings, noted that due to union agreements, actual construction employment for Blacks was poor, but contracting inclusion was solid, primarily due to the joint venture between P.J. Dick and the Brinker Group, a Black–owned construction firm to build the arena parking garage.

“The goal was 25 percent Minority-owned Business Enterprise and 10 percent Women-owned Business Enterprise and we tracked very close, ending up with 22 percent MBE and 8 percent WBE,” said Curry. “Much of that was due to Brinker accounting for 53 percent of the garage project, but we also had their subsidiary, Universal Glass and Metal, Ira Ritter and Graziano construction as prime (contractors).”

Curry said four sub-contractors from the Hill District—Construction King, Service Striping, Wilcox Construction Management and A4 Insurance all worked on the garage.

Penguins General Counsel Travis Williams said as for retail and service jobs at the arena, for the 100 new jobs forecast by SMG, 51 people were referred from the First Source Center at the Hill House.

“Of those, 21 were called back, but only nine showed up—we hired them all,” he said. “Aramark will be adding 200 more jobs and 31 of the first 100 hired are from the Hill.”

Ken Nesbit, who runs the First Resource Center, said its relationship with the Penguins has been positive.

“We fell short on construction, but on retail and service jobs, we’ve done well,” he said. “A lot of our clients haven’t had jobs, so we have to dust them off and get them ready.”

Will Moody, who also works at First Resource, said the center will shift its concentration to industry- specific training.

“We want a ready reserve of Hill residents trained for the hotel and the grocery,” he said. “We’ll be meeting with vendors to see exactly what they want. We’ve already met with Horizon Properties and we’ll have people prepared for the 40-55 available hotel jobs.”

Curry also noted that a WBE had been contracted to provide security at the Civic Arena site and that Hill Consensus Group co-founder Carl Redwood’s son is now one of the guards.

As for development of the 28-acre Civic Arena site, Stadium and Exhibition authority consultant Chris Seslak said they are waiting for the historic review process to be completed, but she expects demolition will ultimately go forward.

“With the holding cost of the arena being very high, the SEA wants to build on the momentum of these other Hill projects,” she said. “If demolition is selected, I’m estimating it would begin in spring 2012.”

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpittsburghcourier.com.)

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