Exceptions Made To New Orleans Hiring Rules With State, Federal Funds

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration has agreed that companies that receive federal and state money for city projects will not have to adhere to the goals for hiring local residents prescribed under the city's normal hiring rules.

         The New Orleans Advocate’s Jessica Williams reports under proposed revisions to the rules for Landrieu's HireNOLA initiative, companies hired by the city on federal- and state-financed projects would still have to first use a city database of job seekers.

         The goals for hiring local residents that are a hallmark of the original program would continue to apply to firms that receive only city dollars.

         The changes address one of contractors' biggest criticisms of the HireNOLA program: that it ignored federal and state bans against local hiring preferences.

         "We chose that direction to make sure that HireNOLA was available even for the federal funding we receive," said Ashleigh Gardere, Landrieu's senior adviser for economic opportunity.

         HireNOLA was introduced last year as another effort to reduce a city unemployment rate that is often cited as a cause for the high rate of violence crime in New Orleans.

         The program requires businesses with applicable city contracts to make "good faith efforts" to award 30 percent of working hours under the contracts to Orleans Parish residents and 10 percent of the hours to "disadvantaged local" employees in 2016, and to increase those goals by 5 percent each year until 2020. The companies also must use the city's "first-source" database to find new hires.

         Originally, no distinction was made between companies handling purely local projects and those doing federal- or state-funded work. City officials said earlier this year that they would evaluate firms that are paid with federal and state dollars on a case-by-case basis.

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