Office of Economic Opportunity
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The new Office of Economic Opportunity's mission is to help integrate into our economy immigrants and residents who need access to opportunities. It will also assist Portland's business community who need qualified employees. The creation of this office was identified as one of the City Council’s goals in 2016, and a priority for the Economic Development Committee.
As Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, Ms. Julia Trujillo, will work collaboratively to assure access for disadvantaged populations, including immigrants/refugees, to relevant, high-quality job training and workforce preparedness opportunities while also improving linkages between job seekers and employers. She will convene regional stakeholders to work collaboratively to develop and implement a community-wide data-collection tool. Ms. Trujillo will also identify gaps and lead efforts to develop evaluative metrics for the Office, and overall serves as a connector among service organizations, employers, and job seekers.
The Council's Economic Development Committee held six public hearings in 2016, heard from service providers, community groups and individuals, looked at comparable northeastern cities, researched best practices from around the country, and held a public conference on the topic. As a result of public input, organizational presentations, national best practice research, and more than 25 meetings with organizations and community members, several key points of consensus emerged:
- Immigration is an important part of this city’s economic growth strategy and improving immigrant integration is critical to ensuring Portland’s work force and vitality.
- Designating an office specifically for New Mainers is largely viewed as exclusive, given the need to also improve economic opportunity for youth, people of color, and other disadvantaged populations.
Findings from the research showed a consensus among those interviewed, as well as conference attendees, that the City does indeed have a role to play. The Committee’s research and public input pointed to creating an Office of Economic Opportunity and Immigrant Integration.
The Office reports directly to the City Manager’s office. The OEO Director was hired in the spring of 2017. She is tasked with establishing the office, which includes the hiring of a Program Manager to implement the Immigrant Integration efforts, and a Program Manager to implement the Inclusion and Equity efforts focused on people of color.