DETROIT (AP) – Marie Davis wants better medical insurance coverage. Jimmie Pleasant has been out of work for six months.
Both are among the thousands of people looking for jobs with Fiat Chrysler during a city program that gives Detroit's residents first crack at the application process. It's part of a $ 108 million land development agreement between a carmaker building a massive new facility and a city where unemployment is more than double the national average.
Detroit officials hope the agreement with Fiat Chrysler will mean residents have a better shot at well-paid jobs with the auto manufacturer, even though Fiat Chrysler is only committed to assessing Detroit residents for work before opening jobs for others. Fiat Chrysler gets land and tax breaks to build in Detroit.
"I sat down with the FCA (Fiat Chrysler) and I said this: & # 39; I'm going to make you feel like you & # 39 ;," said Mayor Mike Duggan. "We clean the country and give it to them. I want a window where Detroiters apply for jobs first. Nobody in this country has ever been given preference."
Many cities have job development programs to prepare people for jobs and make them aware of available hires, but Detroit's requirement that residents be given priority in job interviews and the application registration process is unique, said Tamara Atkinson, CEO of the Regional Labor Force for Labor. For Workforce in Austin, Texas.
"I haven't come across another city that is as intentional about how Detroit uses city incentives to prioritize a local rental campaign," Atkinson said.
Detroit has made gains since the end of 201
Duggan wants those who stuck it out during Detroit's 1 year to stay. More than 24,000 residents have created accounts on the city's Detroit at Work website and registered for job events related to the Fiat Chrysler openings. The carmaker expects to hire around 4900 mostly production jobs at the new facility and a nearby facility, with salaries starting at just over $ 17 per hour. Provisional and temporary Fiat Chrysler workers want to apply first, so Detroit residents have a 30-day window before the carmaker starts taking applications from others.
"What we want is for people to own homes and raise families in this city," Duggan said. "If you make $ 60,000, you can get a nice house in the city of Detroit."
Davis, 49, who has worked in real estate for 25 years, said the $ 220 she spends each month on health insurance takes a large portion of what she earns. Landing a job in Fiat Chrysler would fill the gap, she said.
"It's a very important opportunity for the benefits. I don't plan to quit my second job," Davis added.
Pleasant, 22, who has two little daughters to support and quit working as a pizza shop manager when his hours were cut.
"When they said they allowed Detroiters to apply first, I jumped at it," Pleasant said. "A job is a job. You have to do what you have to do to earn a living."
Fiat Chrysler has undergone its own recovery since the federal government's $ 80 million bailout for the US auto industry. Italian carmaker Fiat took over Chrysler after the American carmaker filed for bankruptcy in 2009. It expects to spend $ 1.6 billion to build the new facility in Motor City.
In the meantime, the city and state will distribute land purchases and preparation costs. The city also agreed to give Fiat Chrysler about $ 12.1 million in property tax reductions.
The company did not respond to requests for comment on its employment plans. When city leaders approved the land deal in May, Mark Stewart, CEO of Fiat Chrysler North America, said: "We put Michigan and Detroit first. This is our home. We are very proud."  The deal is likely to put some Detroit residents in jobs they would not otherwise get, Michigan State University economist Charles Ballard said. But he warned that unemployment could only change a little, since many unemployed people may not have the skills to work in a technology-changing automotive industry.
"This applies to unemployed nationwide," Ballard said. "The group that is more likely to be unemployed is the group that has less education and less skill."
The city's unemployment rate was 8.8% in May, according to the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget, compared with 4.2% statewide and 3.6% nationwide.
"We know that jobs are the path to middle-class life, and we know that elected officials will continue to offer these incentives because they need credit," Ted De Barbieri, associate professor of law at the Albany Law School in New York. Whether a project should go ahead anyway or not, an elected official can say: & # 39; I did everything I can do. & # 39; It shows the importance of employers for local elected officials. We know that ingredients need jobs. "