Council panel OKs $148K to fund ‘economic recovery coordinator’

An Indianapolis City-County Council committee on Monday night tentatively approved plans to hire a contractor to help ensure workers affected by impending layoffs at Carrier Corp. and Rexnord Corp. successfully move on to new employment.

The person hired would also be charged with helping revitalize former industrial sites in the city.

About 600 Carrier workers are expected to lose their jobs this year from Carrier's local operations. Those workers are not among the 800 who managed to stay with the company after President Donald Trump reached a deal to save their jobs. And more than 300 workers from Rexnord’s ball bearings plant are expected to lose their jobs, too.

The so-called "economic recovery coordinator" will be a contracted hire through Develop Indy, the local economic development organization for the county. Develop Indy is part of Indy Chamber but works collaboratively with the city to fulfill the mayor’s economic development agenda.

The council’s Metropolitan and Economic Development Corp. approved $147,916 to fund the first year of the three-year contract position, an amount that city officials say includes salary and some basic administrative costs.

The position will ultimately be 80 percent funded by a $355,000 federal grant the city received last year from the U.S. Economic Development Administration—and 20 percent using $88,750 of the approximately $1 million in funds clawed back from Carrier Corp. for breaching an incentives agreement with the city.

When Democrat Councilman Zach Adamson remarked that the amount seemed like a “very high” salary, Emily Mack, director of metropolitan development, responded that the contractor will be responsible for providing his own health care and benefits package since he will not be a city employee.

Taylor Schaffer, spokeswoman for Mayor Joe Hogsett, said Develop Indy has the discretion to set the salary level "in line with the qualifications of the candidate they hire and in adherance to the needs of the position."

Schaffer said the new coordinator is expected to be hired by the end of the month.

The position will “help ensure workers transition successfully to meaningful employment” and work “collaboratively with the Indy Chamber, companies, workforce development partners and the city to mitigate the effects of recent mass layoffs and help the city insulate itself from future large closures through economic development.”

The coordinator will also work on “revitalizing former industrial sites, facilities and corridors in order to attract and grow a more robust manufacturing sector,” Schaffer said.

Mack said hiring someone to focus on pockets of the city that have been hurt by job losses and closed factories is important.

“There’s no one waking up each and every day thinking about how to redevelop some of these key industrial sites,” Mack said. “That’s what this person is going to live and breathe every day.”

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