During the 2012 budget deliberations, the Madison Common Council agreed to fund a new position to help with job creation, a move that many are excited to make during a major recession. The job will pay $32,821 a year, starting in July.
There's just one question: What will the person do? Should he or she try to woo employers here or help the unemployed find jobs? City staffers are refining the job description, which they hope to advertise this spring.
"I don't think we need to overstudy it," says Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway. "The first thing the person is going to do is look around the country to see what other cities are doing."
Cleveland has helped people start cooperative businesses, such as an industrial laundry service, she says, hiring people from poor neighborhoods. Ald. Brian Solomon, whose day job is with the state Department of Workforce Development, says the county and state have a number of services for low-income and unemployed people, "but we're not making that link to a job at the end."
Solomon says there's a lack of high-paying jobs for people without a college education in Madison. "We have good-paying jobs for people with degrees from UW-Madison, but we don't have jobs for everybody else," he says. "Maybe just a six-week training is all they need. How do we make sure that link is available?"
Ald. Lisa Subeck is excited about the possibilities for the position and a new way to help constituents and struggling neighborhoods. "It's a new frontier for the city. It's something we've always left to the county and the state."