I hope you take advantage of some of the Parks & Recreation Department’s holiday offerings this year. The Botanical Conservatory’s beautiful gardens are adorned with lights, greenery and holiday cheer. Stop by through January 6 to enjoy the “Victorian Holiday” exhibit, which explores nostalgic traditions of the Victorian era, and Santa will be at the Conservatory every Saturday in December for photos. Everyone is invited to the free Annual Community Kwanzaa Celebration on Thursday, December 27 at 6 pm at the Weisser Park Youth Center, 802 Eckart St. There will be music, dance, poetry, a Kwanzaa feast and a live band.
I recently announced two initiatives that have been enacted by the City of Fort Wayne that are designed to assist individuals with job opportunities and help small businesses increase their participation in City contracts.
The City has removed the question about whether an individual has been convicted of a felony from the City’s job application. This practice is known as ban the box. The City will still perform background checks, but through fair hiring practices, individuals will no longer have to declare a felony designation up front. This provides qualified individuals an appropriate opportunity and access to employment with the City. This change will not impact the safety of our community or the quality of candidates being considered by the City. Across the country, 33 states and over 150 cities and counties have adopted ban the box.
Fort Wayne is also encouraging more participation from emerging business enterprises by revising the emerging business enterprises executive order. Emerging businesses will now be allowed to earn revenue up to $10 million a year from the previous $5 million requirement. The changes will allow the emerging business enterprise program goal of 10 percent emerging business enterprise participation on construction contracts to also be satisfied with the use of disadvantaged business enterprises, minority business enterprises and women’s business enterprises that are certified firms by the State of Indiana. The benefits include assisting small businesses in their ability to serve as subcontractors on City projects, enhance a company’s opportunities to fill areas where subcontractors aren’t available and increase participation from emerging business enterprises.
The initiatives were recommendations from my Opportunity Advisory Council. The purpose of the Council is to advise me in regard to current procurement and employment processes by providing best practice recommendations designed to continuously promote and strengthen the City’s diversity policies and procedures within the organization to effectively reflect and serve the community.
I appreciate and value the work of the Opportunity Advisory Council. They’re committed to ensuring we do everything possible to enhance the quality of life for everyone in our City and work together to make a lasting and meaningful difference.
The 11 members of my Opportunity Advisory Council represent public, private, and low-income sectors and reflect various organizations and the ethnic composition of the city’s population. Current members are: Michael Barranda, Dr. Jesse Beasley, Cheri Becker, Regina Frison-Jones, Lewis King, Edmond O’Neal, Antonette Payne, Brad Stiles, Ted Storer, Miguel Trevino and Fernando Zapari. More information about the Council is available at https://www.cityoffortwayne.org/mayor-s-opportunity-advisory-council.html.
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