Orange County Commissioners approved $447,000 for a job-training program in Pine Hills to help residents find jobs closer to their neighborhood. The funding is part of the federal funding earmarked for community services in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act, intended to blunt economic harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the new initiative is to connect Pine Hills residents with employers in the area looking for workers. Large scale employers including Amazon, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Goya Foods, and HD Supply are among the employers with operations located within or near Pine Hills.
The program has several goals, including having raising the median income of residents of Pine Hills” said Sam Weekley, Executive Director of the Pine Hills Neighborhood Improvement District (NID). Weekley went to potential employers within a 5-mile radius and created a database of available jobs and salaries where the average annual salary was over $50,000. The project was launched at the last NID meeting where one of the next steps is to partner with an organization to conduct community outreach, teach job-training classes and hire job coaches that will show residents how to find new career paths. The program will be housed at the Pine Hills Community Center. Some of the positions require specialized skills so relationships have been established with Valencia College, which has a grant program to cover training.
A marketing campaign will be forthcoming to promote the initiative. Weekley is hopeful that this effort will result in a shift in the community where residents invest more in the community and purchase and improve homes resulting in more opportunities for Pine Hills.