Columbus has a generally low unemployment rate, hovering right around four percent. But in some neighborhoods, unemployment rates exceeds 20 percent. Neighborhoods that are persistently underemployed often struggle with resulting symptoms of poverty. Many unemployed residents are employable but overlooked due to having served time in prison, and the City of Columbus's retraining program for restored citizens and other reentry programs report that their largest limiting factor is the lack of available jobs to plug into. This shows us we can't solve the problem without private sector engagement.
To encourage the private sector's investment in more job opportunities for a set of residents with a lot to give, we have added the hiring of disadvantaged workers, such as restored citizens, to the factors considered during the pre-qualification process for companies who bid on city construction contracts. Advancing opportunities for those who otherwise struggle to find a job is a win-win proposition: It helps businesses tap into an available talent pool, and it helps more residents support their families and build up our neighborhoods.