The Planning Report interviews LA Trade Tech President Larry Frank, who along with a broad coalition of elected officials, community leaders, local agencies and nonprofits did the impossible—winning a 2nd federal Promise Zone designation in LA (the South LA Transit Empowerment Zone or SLATE-Z) that opens the door to substantial local and federal assistance: 46% of South LA's 700,000 residents live below the poverty line, and 44.5% work full-time yet still live below 150% over the federal poverty line—more than twice the rate of workers in LA County overall.
Move LA was one of the partners at the very big table set by long-time partner Larry Frank and program director Heddy Nam, and wholly supports the idea that this “transit empowerment zone” can capture the synergy that occurs with concurrent public investment in jobs, economic development, education, public safety, and mobility in South Los Angeles.
The zone includes 15 rail transit stops along Metro’s Blue Line, Expo Line, and the under-construction Crenshaw Line; 10 comprehensive high schools near the stops; USC; Trade Tech; and a number of smaller magnet and charter high schools. Each of the 10 high schools has key partnerships with the primary SLATE-Z non-profits. (Trade Tech was a key partner last year in our successful campaign to create a discounted student transit pass program at LA Metro.)
Larry tells the Planning Report that SLATE-Z is creating pipelines to living-wage jobs through local-hire provisions in project labor agreements, development agreements, and community-benefit agreements, as well as through the city’s train-to-place efforts. The goal is to strengthen the workforce development system to better meet the needs of vulnerable workers, including those who are re-entering the community from incarceration, as well as veterans and monolingual Spanish-speakers.
He says students, workers, and job-seekers will be put on career tracks: For example, 70% of Trade Tech's 23,000 students are in career training—with 3,400 in construction careers and well-positioned for transit-oriented development opportunities and entry-level city jobs. 1,400 are in Trade Tech's Advanced Transportation and Manufacturing Pathway, training for 700 upcoming openings in rail maintenance. Last year, Trade Tech became the first FTA-sponsored transit institute at a community college in the nation.