Hundreds of members of the Overtown community attended a construction job fair hosted by Miami Worldcenter at St. Agnes Episcopal Church on July 7.
A broad coalition of churches including Historic St. Agnes Episcopal Church, Historic Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Historic Mt. Olivette MBC, Temple MBC and Greater Israel Bethel Primitive Baptist Church was successful in spreading the word and mobilizing the community.
Applicants waited in line in hopes of qualifying for the more than 10,000 construction jobs that will be created during the first phase of the 27-acre real estate development. These will be quality jobs that pay more than the so-called ‘living-wage’ — jobs that open the door to careers and help lift families out of poverty.
For many of the people who attended, this event marked the latest sign of tangible progress in a community that has been overlooked for decades. Fortunately, more good will come from the Miami Worldcenter development over time. The project’s developers have spent more than a year working with Commissioners Keon Hardemon and Audrey Edmonson, Miami-Dade County Office of Small Business Development, Southeast Overtown/Park West CRA, Transition Inc, Career Source Florida Builders Association and countless community groups in Overtown to identify the challenges facing our neighborhood.
The developers have entered into an extensive community benefits package that will guarantee priority hiring for residents and businesses in Overtown, ensure construction workers earn at least $12.83 per hour, and provide neighborhood businesses with retail space and guaranteed rent reduction.
As is the case with most major real estate developments, Miami Worldcenter isn’t without critics. But in my first-hand experience, the vast majority of people who live and work in Overtown support this development because of the opportunity it will deliver and the community outreach the developer has undertaken.
Overtown has fallen victim to broken promises for far too long. Now we have a developer investing the money and time needed to bring real change. It’s time to embrace progress.
The Rev. Willie J. Cook, Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Miami