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(Published December 6, 1999)


Staff Writer

A program being implemented by the D.C. Department of Employment Services will change the look of the District’s "one-stop" employment centers, adding corporate logos to the outsides of government buildings and letting corporations run their own training programs out of the new centers.

The $3.9 million taxpayer-funded plan also will pay the salaries of the companies’ employees who work at the new centers and will let them occupy city office space rent-free.

CVS Pharmacy will be the first corporation to benefit from the program.

The first center to open will be located at 4049 South Capitol St. SW, which will open in February. When it opens, DOES will have spent $700,000 remodeling the center and building a prototype store where CVS can train its potential employees.

The partnership with CVS, according to a "memorandum of understanding" obtained by The Common Denominator, also calls for the D.C. government to pay the salaries of six CVS trainers at the site, and for transporting them to and from the Metro station, totaling approximately $156,000. CVS also will receive up to $365,000 in federal grant money to pay half the salaries of up to 100 trainees it eventually hires.

The two-year agreement calls for CVS to train 600 eligible welfare recipients and place at least 420 of them in jobs in the metropolitan area.

According to DOES Director Gregory P. Irish, the department is currently negotiating with other corporations to establish similar training facilities within the city’s one-stop employment centers. Lockheed-Martin, Xerox and Giant Food are among the companies with which Irish said the department is currently negotiating.

Irish said those companies were chosen because the department felt they had the best potential for providing a lot of jobs for D.C. residents.

"We looked at where the job growth is expected to be and that is where we went to," he said.

Irish said there wasn’t a process of elimination to narrow down which corporations would be selected.

"We selected companies that are likely to grow in D.C.," he said. "It doesn’t exclude Rite Aid or anyone else from coming to us and saying they’re interested in providing jobs."

Funding for the program comes from a federal Department of Labor grant. The grant is intended to be used in the District, but under an unusual agreement with the state of Maryland was actually given to Prince George’s County. Irish said this was because the federal grant expires in July 2000, so the District has to get the centers up and running by then.

"We knew that the procurement was slow in D.C.," he said. "If you don’t spend the money on time, it goes back."

P.G. County will take from 3 to 5 percent of the grant as an "administrative fee," and in return all contracts for getting the centers built will be awarded through the county’s offices. A Department of Labor official said he is not aware if any other jurisdictions in the country have used a similar arrangement.

Irish said he is making sure that not all the contracts go to Maryland companies and that D.C. companies and residents get preference.

In addition to the South Capitol Street location, DOES is in the process of negotiating agreements for its other locations. Its location at the Waterside Mall in Southwest will have a Xerox training facility and Giant Food will be in its location at Skyland Shopping Center on Naylor Road in Southeast Washington.

Irish said the department is also trying to get a major airline company to come into its location at Ninth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE on Capitol Hill and a major computer software/hardware manufacturer to locate a training facility in its Kansas Avenue site in Northwest Washington’s Petworth neighborhood.

Irish said the terms of each agreement will be different, depending on the scope of each particular training location and the companies’ goals.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator