NEW ORLEANS -- There are billions of dollars in construction projects now underway in New Orleans as the city rebuilds its storm damaged public housing, schools and other critical infrastructure.
Despite the need for construction workers, many locals have struggled to find the jobs.
"I'd rather be working than sitting at home doing nothing," said out of work electrician Lonzo Clay.
Monday, Clay was one of about 100 people filling out applications at a special job match sponsored by the Central City Partnership.
"I worked for Avondale for like 13 years and got laid off in the process of them closing down and just trying to get stable work again," said Clay.
Barbara Lacen Keller, Chair of the Central City Partnership says the program also helps non-traditional job seekers find employment.
"For some reason maybe have been a returning offender, maybe someone who had some deficiencies with drug abuse, and have decided to get their life back," said Keller. "I am a strong believer that if you empower them with a way that they can get a job and keep a job, all the other things will disappear."
Industrial Development Board President Walter Flower says before the job match program came on line last August, only 18-percent of the workers rebuilding public housing here were local.
He says with help from the program and HANO, local participation is now at around 40-percent.
"We make sure that they're qualified," said Flower. "We make sure they're drug free. We make sure that they're equipped for the task and then try to guide them about how to present themselves to get the job in place."
Contractors say there is a benefit to hiring local.
"It's nice to have local guys come around and understand the neighborhoods where you're working and can contribute there ideas and some of their skills and connections," said Casey Adams from Gootee General Contracting.
So far about 200 people have found jobs through the Central City Partnership, job match program. Organizers say it's just a start.
"As you can see from the filling of this room today, we're beginning to really get traction," said Flower.
"I think if they participate in coming here to get them a job, I think there will be less crime in the city," said Clay.
If you want more information on the Crescent City Partnership skills bank log on to www.crescentcityjobmatch.com