Impact New Jersey/New York Hazardous Materials Worker Training Center (NJ/NY Center) has had a tremendous impact on the sustainability of communities in Region II over the past fourteen years through the MWT and BMWT Programs. The NJ/NY Center has provided training to 775 community residents to date and has successfully graduated 601 program participants. As this initiative has matured, its performance has steadily improved and today achieves excellent training completion, job placement, and job retention of its graduates. In addition, engaging in continuous dialog with employers and policymakers to enhance and expand the curriculum to meet their needs as well as the graduates has kept the Program competitive. For example, for the last completed 2008 Program year, 92 percent of the graduates have been successfully placed in employment;86 percent of the placements were in unionized positions with an average wage of $16.26 with full benefits. Both the MWT and BMWT Programs have consistently secured jobs for 80% of the Program graduates. The training provided also enabled them to receive critical certifications and find jobs in the environmental industry. The MWT Program supports a comprehensive approach that blends job training, support services, community involvement, environmental awareness, and workforce development with redevelopment strategies to empower individuals and communities long characterized as at-risk. The record of the previous BMWT Program in Newark demonstrated that job training targeted specifically to individuals hardest hit by the legacy of economic abandonment and environmental neglect can be effective. Tying redevelopment to community empowerment is a remedy to the zero-sum game that is too often inherent in "urban renewal." That is, if development fails to deal with those most impacted by decline, then their issues - which ultimately are everyone's issues - are only moved from one place to another. In the end, nobody benefits. Environmental justice coupled with bottom-up interventions in brownfields reclamation can and are working to improve the sustainability of communities.
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