Thursday, March 26, 2009

Community benefits for the maybe-Chicago Olympics

Chicago is one of the cities vying for the 2016 Olympics (see Chicago2016), and community organizers have been using the leverage of a May 2 visit from the International Olympics Committee (IOC) to get the city to agree to some community benefits--or else have to explain "demonstrations in the streets" to the IOC. (Community organizers aren't the only ones using the high profile visit to try to get the city to notice them; members of the police union are also thinking about picketing to draw attention their contract problems.)

On January 13, an ordinance was proposed that would craft a "Legacy Plan" for possible Olympics facilities. The ordinance was supported by Toni Preckwinkle, among a number of other aldermen, and would require:
  • that 30% of the housing at the Olympic Village to be affordable;
  • that displaced residents, including tenants and owners, receive adequate compensation and that the city help to relocate homeless shelters and "make sure that no actions are taken whose purpose is to remove, displace or hide homeless people";
  • that 50% of the value of contracts associated with the 2016 bid be awarded to minority/women owned businesses and that the city "utilize a competitive and transparent procurement process";
  • that the city "will have subsidy accountability in the event of public funding for the
    Olympics", meaning that publicly accessible quarterly reports will assess the amount of federal, state, county and city subsidies going into the project;
  • that "[a]ny project or business receiving public financial assistance or constructed on public land shall implement hiring criteria that gives preference to and has specific goals for hiring locally for construction and permanent (retail, service, etc.) jobs that extend beyond the Olympics. If public subsidies enhance the Oiympic bid or are utilized throughout the Olympics preparation and operation, the City of Chicago will convene a community oversight committee to monitor progress towards meeting community economic goals."
  • that the city will develop a job training program to prepare "discouraged, unemployed, underemployed, and hard-to-employ workers" for olympics jobs;
  • that the city will enter into a PLA (project labor agreement) with relevant unions and require as part of the agreement that apprentices will perform 10% of total construction hours;
  • that any business renting space in the Olympic Village must pay a living wage and provide health coverage in order to be eligible for city tax incentives, loans and grants; and
  • that the city will use the opportunity presented by the Olympics to make significant transit improvements and to promote dense, mixed use development near transit.
(See here for more background on the drafting of the CBA.)

The city council's finance committee is scheduled to hold a meeting on the ordinance on March 27, but the news today is that a tentative deal has already been reached. More on this soon.


The Chicago 2016 planning committee signed an MOU outlining its commitment to an economic and community framework today. According to the Chicago 2016 press release, "[t]he signed memorandum focuses on establishing programs designed to increase participation and diversity within the industries of contracting and procurement, construction, workforce development, affordable housing and community enhancements. In particular, the agreement centers on fostering benefits within neighborhoods and communities in and around venue sites, as well as with minorities, women, persons with disabilities and veterans."

Some of the provisions included in the MOU, as described in the press release:
- a diversity program with a goal to meet or exceed participation levels attained by previous U.S. cities that hosted the Games. It provides a minimum floor of targeted procurement and hiring objectives – 25 percent for businesses owned by minorities and persons with disabilities, and 5 percent for women-owned firms.
- a procurement scorecard giving preference to vendors who are or who partner with firms owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities; businesses located within the region; and those who hire employees from such groups and within neighborhoods situated near venue sites.

- while the city currently requires a minimum of 20 percent affordable housing units within the Olympic Village site, a target of 30 percent will be the objective, with the understanding that development of any units above 20 percent pending pro rata incremental subsidies from outside public and/or private funds.

- promotion of a “living wage” and sustainable jobs through the creation of workforce development and training programs, including skills assessment, the development and publication of apprenticeship opportunities and the provision of access to industry-specific training programs.

- a goal that minority/ low or moderate income apprentices who have matriculated from the Chicago Public Schools or the City Colleges of Chicago account for 10 percent of the construction hours on 2016 Games projects .

- promotion of accessibility in local and small businesses.

- the restoration or enhancement of Olympic and Paralympic venue sites situated in and around park and open spaces after the Games.
The Chicago 2016 MOU is supported by the Chicago Urban League, and representatives of Communities for an Equitable Olympics said that as of now, the group has no plans to protest next week during the IOC's visit.

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