New database helps make it easier for companies to hire Youngstown residents

Local News

The database ensures city residents have the first pick for jobs offered by companies getting property tax abatements

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – When companies sign property tax abatements with Youngstown, they must also agree to hire so many city residents. Some comply and some don’t. For the companies that don’t, the city has created a database to help. But if the companies still won’t hire city residents, their tax abatements may be taken away.

As head of Youngstown’s human relations department, Jonathan Bentley helps monitor the companies getting property tax abatements, all of which include language requiring city residents to be among the workers hired.

“One of the common hindrances that our companies report back to us is that we’re looking for people to fit the categories of city resident, minorities, women and we’re just not finding qualified candidates,” he said.

So, Bentley created a workforce database, which can be accessed through the city’s website. Anyone can submit an application — 170 already have — but city residents who qualify will get the first choice.

If a company doesn’t comply with the terms of the tax abatement…

“If you’re not really making an effort then it’s time to start taking those tax abatements away and getting the citizens of Youngstown a return on their investment,” Bentley said.

As far as the number of companies not living up to the tax abatement hiring requirement…

“I would say more than 50%, and once again, that’s why we have to have solutions in place,” Bentley said.

Bentley admits every job available to a city resident may not be able to be filled by a city resident, but what he wants is good faith effort from companies that are getting these tax abatements.

He also wanted to let city residents know that he’s looking for five people to serve on Youngstown’s Human Relations Commission. They will help him address issues like fair employment, fair housing, education and tax abatement monitoring.

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