Innovator: Lancaster City Alliance & Community Action Partnership
Lancaster is a city on the rise… sometimes, quite literally. All of the commercial, retail and culinary developments in the city have coincided with the development of its buildings, resources and of course, employment. A shift this colossal — and ongoing — requires careful management and a team working to ensure that residents, small and large businesses, communities, educational institutions, nonprofits and the government can coexist in a dynamic, clean and safe city… and that’s where the Lancaster City Alliance comes in.
The organization recently partnered with Communication Action Partnership (CAP), the county’s largest anti-poverty organization to ensure that Lancaster nonprofits are working alongside one another “to ensure maximum impact for the community, Anne Williams, the organization’s director of communications explains.
“The partnership officially began a few months ago when we were hearing from our affiliates in the construction industry that they are experiencing a large workforce gap,” she explained. “That gap drives up the cost of construction labor and stifles the growth of equitable housing in the City of Lancaster.” But the collaboration aims to place unemployed and underemployed City residents in living wage construction jobs, address the workforce gap in the construction industry.
LCA/Cap serves as a liaison between a those who need employment and the organizations that can help them develop the skills they require. “This project is a self-sustaining ecosystem. Meaning, difficult to employ individuals in Lancaster City have been given the support and training they need to thrive,” Williams explains. “They now have jobs repairing façades. With the repetition of doing façade work, they build an in-demand and specific skill set. This makes them more valuable to the construction industry, securing their opportunity to remain employed in a thriving wage career.”
She went onto explain that the influx in employment has helped to improve properties in Lancaster experiencing disinvestment, and that children in the neighborhood seeing people like them working to make a positive change for the community is an important part of its long-term impact. “This instills pride in the neighborhood, which leads to neighborhood stabilization, which we know leads to additional neighborhood investments,” Williams shares.
Only five years old, the Lancaster City Alliance is passionate about the “vitality of the city,” Williams says, “we serve as a central repository of information, resources, and connections for getting things done. With the assistance of our many partners, this has resulted in traditional economic development investment, supporting entrepreneurs and the merchant community, and enhancing quality of life for City residents, visitors, and businesses.”
Ultimately, LCA/CAP serves to strengthen the city, the general contracting community and the improved lives of our community members and neighbors. All in all, it’s engaging as many people as we can in the betterment and revitalization of the community. As Williams explains, fostering pride for the city in combination with the application of skills needed can “lay the foundation to create and evolve a replicable model that could lift a significant number of families out of poverty through living wage employment.”