Navy Hill jobs outreach continues in East End

 Open House at HMHY Foundation

Open House at HMHY Foundation

If the Navy Hill proposal is introduced by Mayor Stoney and approved by City Council, it would create 12,500 construction jobs over a nearly three-year period. Once complete, the neighborhood would be home to 9,000 permanent jobs, according to a study by researchers at VCU. Those positions would comprise a wide range of roles and skillsets, from servers at your new neighborhood coffee shop to bartenders and cooks, to corporate and creative careers, and hundreds of staff servicing the 527-room hotel and new Arena.

We recently attended an open house hosted by the Help Me Help You (HMHY) Foundation and J&G Consulting/Workforce Development Services. More than 50 individuals attended throughout the four-hour event to learn about opportunities at various development projects around the city, including Navy Hill and others in Jackson Ward and the East End. Help Me Help You is actively involved in workforce development issues for Navy Hill, and to date has gained the signatures of more than 400 city residents who have shown interest in various aspects of the proposed project.

If the Navy Hill proposal moves forward, “it really will be life-changing for Richmond,” says Grace Washington, founder of J&G Consulting and host of the event in Mosby Court. “What we want to do is make sure that its life-changing for our minority and underserved communities. This is why we are at the table early so that we really get a chance, those in this community, to participate in something that is life changing.”

Ralph Stuckey, who serves on the Richmond Redevelopment & Housing Authority, encouraged attendees to get involved in the Navy Hill project in any way they could - and noted that involvement doesn’t mean “getting dirty” in a construction job, either.

“There are so many opportunities from estimators, to design, to the suppliers to deliveries,” he told the crowd. And once the neighborhood is built, he notes, the buildings – including a 17,500-seat arena, a 527-room hotel, and dozens of new restaurants and retail shops – will require people to operate and maintain them.

“There are so many jobs to be had, and this will impact our communities in so many positive ways,” Stuckey said. “It is important that people in the neighborhood and in the community be an advocate for this project, because it can really change the trajectory of peoples’ lives.”

Julian Bowers, a project manager with mechanical contractor The Hyperion Group, called Navy Hill “a great project that the city needs.”

Navy Hill “is something that will put a spark of life back into the heart of the city,” says Bowers, who has contracted with numerous Central Virginia construction management firms on projects throughout the city. “The only concern I have is making sure that the minority participation is allocated accordingly.”

It’s a concern that the developers share and have addressed head-on, setting aside $300 million in minority business contracts to minority firms for the project.

Hyperion could become one of those firms. It is a certified minority-owned firm headquartered in Richmond, serving the residential and commercial HVAC markets in the mid-Atlantic region. Says Bowers, “We provide ourselves on being a good mechanical contractor that just so happens to be black.”

And minority participation doesn’t end at awarding contracts, Bowers says.

“We need to make sure that whoever is selected to run these projects puts a heavy emphasis on the mentor-protege relationships to help black businesses in the city grow,” Bowers says. “We must make sure the companies are involved are invested in making black businesses heavily involved and part of the economic machine in Richmond. This is a billion-dollar project. There must be an emphasis in making black businesses a part of that.”

And companies like Hyperion, he says, will pay that forward in those they hire. “We want to train people in a way that they can sustain their lives,” he said. “We’ll teach them the trade so that even after the project is over, they can take that skill and take it forward for the rest of their lives.”

Interested businesses or individuals looking for contracts or jobs should sign up for more information at https://navyhillrva.com/jobs.

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