This morning, reporters wearing hard hats entered the massive construction site of the future home of the Nets in Brooklyn to hear Mayor Mike Bloomberg brag about the thousands of jobs the project will provide for neighborhood residents.
But there seemed to be a bit of confusion in the question-and-answer session about the exact nature of the jobs and how many will actually be full-time when the large sports and entertainment arena officially opens this coming fall.
The hard-hat-wearing mayor, standing with Bruce Ratner, the developer behind the project and co-owner of the Nets, unveiled a plan today to fill approximately 2,000 jobs at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn with priority given to local residents.
“This is going to be one of the iconic places, one of the places to really come and to be entertained,” Bloomberg said. “It also means a lot of economic growth, more tax revenue, and more jobs…We want to make sure that [the people] that live in the Brooklyn communities closest to this arena have the opportunity to apply for those jobs…Beginning next week, we’re actually going to go into neighborhoods to actually recruit candidates to fill approximately 2,000 jobs.”
The city will connect residents to employment opportunities in this project through its Workforce1 services and plan to give priority for full-time and part-time positions to residents of Community Boards 2, 3, 6, and 8, as well as to New York City Housing Authority residents in nearby developments. The jobs include sales reps, security guards, food service associates, accountants, and arena directors.
“We’re taking every opportunity to…ensure that local residents can have every opportunity to get these jobs. They’re gonna have to be qualified, they’re gonna have to be the best, but we’re gonna reach out to local residents first,” Bloomberg said.
Scheduled to open in September, Barclays Center will be a major sports and entertainment venue that will offer 18,200 seats for basketball and up to 19,000 sats for concerts.
Ratner said that local hiring — which has sometimes been a source of contention locally with the larger Atlantic Yards project — has always been a priority. “Today is one of the most important days in the history of this arena. You’ll have championships here…and yet it’s one of the most important days, because we’re hiring 2,000 people that are local residents…We’re gonna be greeted by ushers and porters and ticket-takers from our own communities,” he said, adding at the end of his remarks, “This really is about jobs.”
One reporter asked why it seems the numbers of changed when months earlier the figure being tossed around was 1,500.
Ratner and Bloomberg explained that the numbers can vary depending on whether they are part-time or full-time jobs, since for any given event, there will be at most 800 people working in the arena.
Another reporter asked for the number of full-time equivalent jobs. Bloomberg seemed quickly irritated: “I don’t have any idea what that is, what they are. Bruce, do you want to…It’s really different. It’s hard to calculate. If the average person works 30 hours and you say a full-time job is 40 hours, then you would just take 3/4 of the 2,000 number.”
(Apparently, it’s around 1,240 full-time equivalent).
The reporter interjected that the state, which approved the project, said 1,100.
“The state can say anything they want,” Bloomberg responded. “Maybe their numbers are right, maybe their numbers wrong. Address it to the state. Don’t address it to [us].”
Ratner interrupted, addressing the reporter directly: “We’ve created one more job. That’s a job for you! So that’s the good news.”
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