Falcons new stadium project drops the ball with minority workers - CBS46 News

Falcons' new stadium project drops the ball with minority workers

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Next to one of the poorest communities in Atlanta, you'll find the city's most expensive construction project. Yet jobs are still hard to come by for hundreds of locals interested in working on the new Falcons stadium.

"When you give a man a job, half the battle is done," Next Step Staffing owner Ricky Brown said. "Our motto here at Next Step Staffing is, 'we don't want to rob, we just want a job, we don't want to be on the block, we're just trying to get on the clock.'"

Brown runs a job agency nearby that helps ex-felons and veterans find work. He was thrilled when contractors with the stadium asked him to find 500 jobless locals to help build the new facility.

"We do have emails where we were asked to provide masons, glaziers, plumbers, electricians, things of that sort and these men and woman we have in our data base fit that skill set," Brown said. "Our phone system even shut down because we had so many calls that were coming from so many people wanting to be a part of that stadium project. Our website shut down four times because we were overwhelmed."

"Of the 500 you trained, how many of those actually have a job?" CBS46's Adam Murphy asked.

"At the stadium, none," Brown said.

Stanley Hendrix is one of those ex-offenders that had hopes of getting his life back on track as a construction worker at the stadium.

"Now our hopes and dreams have been crushed because we still don't have a job," Hendrix said.

Our investigation found that stadium contractors agreed to include minority participation in the project from agencies like Next Step Staffing. To date, records show only about 26 percent of the work has been awarded to minority firms.

"I can fork lift, I can weld iron. I can lift iron with the proper tools. I have skills," job seeker Duke Johnson said.

Johnson is another candidate without a job at the stadium. So to make ends meet he goes door-to-door in his neighborhood looking for part-time work as a handyman.

"The community is going down, the job employment line is getting longer and opportunity is getting thinner and getting snatched away from us," Johnson said.

"If we don't give them a chance to work, our crime rate goes up, our recidivism rate goes up and nobody wins," Brown said.

Brown said his people are well prepared and he's shocked none of his candidates have been hired.

"I trust and pray that the Atlanta Falcons, the Arthur Blank Foundation and the Atlanta Workforce Development and the city of Atlanta will step up and make sure that these people are treated right and treated fairly," Brown said.

So CBS46 contacted a representative with the new stadium project and Kim Shreckengost with AMB Group sent a statement saying the following:

"The vast majority of the work is still in front of us, and there will be plenty of future staffing and labor needs for qualified businesses and individuals."

"We are confident in our ability to achieve our commitment of 31 percent participation by minority and female business enterprises in the design and construction of the new stadium, and our track record this early in the project backs that up."

"Any M/FBE business owner seeking information that might aid in successfully competing for future opportunities should access the stadium construction joint venture website, www.hhrmjv.com, or call the stadium project's diversity coordinator, Rodney Strong, at 404-584-9777."

"To work on and have that project to say I put bricks down that would be absolutely wonderful," Johnson said.

"I would go right back up the street and turn back flips man while playing the guitar all at the same time," Hendrix said.

After exposing the issue, the Falcons began negotiating with Next Step Staffing and reached a verbal agreement to put 100 people to work on the stadium project in October. The deal also includes putting another 500 people to work over time.

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