DEP GETS FEDERAL GRANT TO HELP UNEMPLOYED CAMDEN RESIDENTS LAND GREEN JOBS
PARTICIPANTS TO BE TRAINED IN ENVIRONMENTAL SKILLS
(11/P101) TRENTON - New Jersey is getting a $300,000 federal grant for a green jobs training program in Camden that will target unemployed or underemployed residents for jobs in assessing and cleaning up brownfields and other contaminated sites in their city, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin and State Labor Commissioner Harold "Hal'' Wirths announced today.
The grant money is funneled through the DEP's Office of Economic Growth and Green Energy (EGGE), which has created a Sustainable Brownfields Redevelopment Workforce Creation for Camden County Program that is underwritten by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Program partners will choose 72 individuals from Camden for job training that will offer them long-term employment opportunities. Participants will be specially trained in the identification of contaminated sites for sustainable redevelopment, hazard awareness and safety, renewable energy installation and repair, energy efficient buildings, low-impact development, natural stormwater treatment, and habitat rehabilitation.
"The goal of the program is to help re-tool the Camden workforce by offering training for jobs that specialize in green and sustainable revitalization and redevelopment of their own city,'' said DEP Commissioner Martin. "It's a great example of how we can improve an urban environment, to protect the health and welfare of residents while providing new jobs and career opportunities.
"The skills that are developed can be used in future environmental projects across New Jersey,'' Commissioner Martin added. "These Camden residents can be in the forefront of the State's renewable energy efforts, working on projects such as solar installation and repair.''
Labor Commissioner Wirths and Michele Horst, executive director of the State Employment Training Commission, praised the program today, noting Camden has one of the State's highest unemployment rates. The two agencies are simultaneously administering a new round of "green training'' grants under the State Energy Sector Program, which focuses on employers.
"We are building on a core policy in New Jersey of having employers identify their employee training needs to become energy efficient, reduce operating costs and be more competitive,'' said Commissioner Wirths, who sits on the State Employment Training Commission.
The grant announcement was made at a press conference this morning at the Meadows at Pyne Point, a 40-unit special needs housing project on the former Knox Gelatin site in North Camden, where State and Federal officials, including EPA Director of Emergency and Remedial Response Division Walter Mugdan, and Camden Director of Development and Planning Edward Williams.
It is anticipated that Camden residents trained in this program will be able to work on brownfield sites, including the Knox Gelatin property and the nearby Harrison Avenue landfill, which is undergoing remediation to prepare it for a new Salvation Army Community Center.
There are many urban land reclamation projects being designed and implemented in Camden. In past revitalization projects in Camden, many times skilled environmental professional were hired from outside of Camden to conduct the necessary environmental assessment, remediation and maintenance efforts. This new job training program will help change that pattern.
"The success of the program will be a reflection of the strong partnerships that we have in Camden," said DEP Project Manager, Jaime Ewalt, of the EGGE office. "Local stakeholders and institutional partners are actively partnering with DEP to revitalize Camden in a way that fosters sustainable growth. We have created a pipeline with recruiting and employment partners who have committed to placing all graduates in meaningful jobs in the community of Camden."
The training and job placement program is cross-disciplinary and comprehensive. An innovative curriculum will be offered through Camden County College, based on the needs and skill sets identified by local employers, project contractors, and community partners in Camden.
Employment partners involved in this effort include The Salvation Army, Camden County Municipal Utility Authority, Camden Redevelopment Agency, Dresdner Robin, and Cooper's Ferry Development Association. Local nonprofit groups including Respond Inc., Heart of Camden, Save Our Waterfront, Camden City Garden Club and other organizations will assist Camden County College in curriculum development and recruitment of city residents.
"This $300,000 award for brownfields remediation is a welcome adjunct to the development already happening here and will extend our mission of economic development and job creation for community residents,'' said Wilbert Mitchell, Executive Director of Respond, Inc.
The federal Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act was passed in 2002. It established a Brownfields Program that provides funds for brownfields assessments, cleanup, revolving loans and green job training. It encourages redevelopment of abandoned and contaminated waste sites.
Training courses to be offered at Camden County College will begin in January. Interested persons should contact the college's continuing education department at (856) 874-6004.
For information on the DEP's Office of Economic Growth and Green Energy, visit:
For information on the State Department of Labor's Green Jobs Program, visit:
For information on EPA Region2 brownfields activities, visit: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields