One-on-one job readiness assistance and computer skills taught at the Employment Connection Center gave some Baltimore residents, like Joanne Brown, the opportunity to obtain a job after being unemployed for a period of time.
According to the 39-year-old, she participated in programs with the Mayor's Office of Employment Development (MOED) since the age of 16. Recently, she experienced hardship and said she knew exactly where to go. Through MOED and the Employment Connection Center, Brown was able to land a job at Baltimore's Horseshoe Casino as a security dispatcher. She has been employed there for nearly a year.
On Monday, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other officials announced the grand opening of the job center. The opening, they said, is part of an ongoing fight against unemployment, and brings attention to the need of residents and businesses in the casino impact area, and neighboring communities in south and southwest Baltimore.
Rawlings-Blake said her administration has reduced unemployment by a third, with more than 12,000 new jobs created.
"This progress did not occur by accident, our city is growing because we've been intentional about our efforts to ensure that no one is left behind," the mayor said Monday.
Local impact grant funds from the Horseshoe Casino financed the ECC, which provides both services for employers and job seekers. The full service employment development firm will allow job seekers with an opportunity to upgrade computer skills, gain computer certifications, explore careers, prepare for interviews and connect with employers. Center staff will work with businesses to create training programs and skills upgrades for their workers.
Senator Bill Ferguson said investing in jobs and education are key to helping the city through a difficult stretch following the unrest of April and May.
"There is no question that the unrest that we've seen in Baltimore is a question around economic instability and when we can get people into work that is how we solve the long-term problems in our city," Ferguson said.
Brown, who spoke at the event, wants to present hope to future job seekers. She said ECC gave her the skills needed to operate as a dispatcher.
"They gave me a reason to want to move forward to get something in life. I just don't want any of the youth or the older generation to feel like there is no help, and there is help in the city," said Brown. "If you just reach out, then you can have it."