A group of clergy say Hamilton County’s recent analysis of workers on the massive Banks project along Cincinnati’s downtown riverfront vindicates its concern that not enough local residents are being used.
During a Hamilton County Commission meeting Wednesday, Banks project manager John Deatrick unveiled an analysis that revealed the numbers of people employed who live in Cincinnati and Hamilton County are lower than previously reported.
Of the 642 employees who worked on The Banks during a 12-month period ending in December 2009, just 8.7 percent lived in Cincinnati, and 22.1 percent lived in Hamilton County.
That’s contrary to the numbers presented last fall by Lockland-based Ellington Management Services, a project consultant. At the time, Ellington said more than four out of every five Banks workers live within in a 15-county area of Greater Cincinnati and 30 percent of workers within the city of Cincinnati.
But a payroll analysis by AMOS last year disputed the figures
, finding that 40 percent of the workforce came from out of state.
The dispute prompted the latest analysis, which showed local numbers are lagging.
“We are pleased that the Banks project leadership undertook the process of reevaluating the workforce numbers,” said the Rev. Troy Jackson, senior pastor at University Christian Church. “Our research last summer showed that local workforce participation was too low. We commend their efforts to improve the accuracy of reporting. We are troubled, however, at the trend in the lack of transparency and accountability in major tax funded projects.”
AMOS leaders are urging county commissioners to make more of a commitment to hire local workers.
“We support calls to put into place more rigorous and accurate data collection through a new oversight firm,” Jackson added. “But the issue is not just one of transparency, but of contracting with companies that add value to our tax-funded projects.
“We call on the county commissioners to enact a local hiring policy that focuses on value: Contracting with companies that are responsible and invest back into our neighborhoods through jobs,” he said. “A local hiring policy is common sense. It keeps our tax dollars here by investing in our county’s workforce.”
Proposed in 1999, The Banks is envisioned as a mix of apartments, condominiums, offices and shops between the Reds and Bengals stadiums. At least $200 million in taxpayer money is included in the financing plan for The Banks, which has an estimated price tag of more than $800 million.
After years of delay, the project’s first phase is now under construction.
The AMOS Project is a Tristate coalition of 30 churches dedicated to promoting social justice and reducing poverty.
The group takes its name from a Bible verse: "... Let justice roll down like waters.” (Amos 5:24)