By Sharise Horne
MSD hosted its Second Annual Workforce Convening on June 26-27 at the Brown Hotel. The meeting was co-sponsored by Louisville Water Company and Transit Authority of River City (TARC). The first day of the convening consisted of tours of Louisville Water’s WaterWorks Museum, MSD’s Waterway Protection Tunnel interactive display at Kentucky Science Center, and the community benefit “leave-behinds” in Shawnee Park with the newly constructed Shawnee Park Combined Sewer Overflow Basin. The tours provided an opportunity for our national and local partners to see Community Benefits at work!
On the 27th, MSD had a full day of rich conversation with national organizations, local utility partners, and community organizations on the way utilities can increase workforce opportunities and exposure for youth and vulnerable communities in the water sector, economic inclusion and community benefits from a national perspective, and industry best trends.
As part of the convening, MSD released its first-ever Water Equity Roadmap. “An Equitable Water Future: Louisville” was collaboratively developed by leaders from MSD, Louisville Water, TARC, Louisville Urban League, Louisville Metro Government, Where Opportunity Knox, and Jacobs Engineering, with support from the US Water Alliance.
Louisville’s vulnerable communities face a range of challenges related to water, from aging infrastructure, affordability, barriers to participating in the local infrastructure workforce, and contracting opportunities. Among the report’s recommended actions are changes to procurement and hiring policies, as well as more intensive cross-agency collaboration on workforce and skills training and mentoring potential employees from the city’s vulnerable communities.
According to MSD Executive Director Tony Parrott, “Water has the power to put people to work. At MSD, we’ve been making good progress toward understanding and tackling the barriers to workforce participation and contracting that confront minorities and low-income residents. This roadmap lays out specific steps we can take, at MSD and beyond, to deepen our impact. We’ll keep driving to make sure all Louisville’s residents have access to the economic benefits resulting from our community’s investments in infrastructure.”
Community Benefits Director Sharise Horne said, “I am proud of the great work our team put into deep dive into the water equity barriers and come up with real recommendations that will not only provide a positive impact for the community, but for the workforce pipeline for years to come.”
This report is part of the Water Equity Taskforce, a network of cities convened by the US Water Alliance that work together to develop more equitable water policies and practices. The Taskforce comprises cross-sector teams in the cities of Atlanta, Buffalo, Camden, Cleveland, Louisville, Milwaukee and Pittsburgh.
For more information visit: http://uswateralliance.org/initiatives/water-equity/taskforce.