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Jubilee Homes' job training program in Syracuse gets $300,000 state grant

Tom Magnarelli
An employee of Jubilee Homes explains the remodeling of the upstairs part of their headquarters, which was a former funeral home.

An organization on Syracuse's southwest side is tackling the neighborhood's unemployment problem from all different angles. It hopes a new grant from the state will help.

A former funeral home on South Ave. in Syracuse is the headquarters for Jubilee Homes, which is receiving a $3oo,ooo grant from the New York State Department of Labor, to start their Build to Work program. Kristin Davis is one of the job coaches and said they hope to place more than 50 people into long-term employment.

“We stay with the people through the program," Davis said. "At 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, we’re checking in with the employer and the employee to make sure everything is going smoothly.”

Davis said they are very flexible with on-site and in-house training because everyone comes from different circumstances.

“Some of them work nights, some of them work two part time jobs, some are full time students," Davis said. "We might be able to put someone right to work just through our connections and our partners. It’s going to vary depending on the person who signs up to our program, what their needs are.”

Davis said they want to place participants in jobs within the computer, retail, agriculture, hospitality and tourism industries.

Jubilee Homes is also behind getting a Price Rite grocery store into the area which will give residents close access to fresh food. Walt Dixie, the executive director of Jubilee Homes, said the grocery store is an anchor project to help develop the surrounding area and he hopes it can be open by the end of next summer.

“Our next goal is helping us build our capacity so that we can develop a strategy to build up the South Ave. corridor with an emphasis on small businesses or trying to get a small manufacturing company to come into the neighborhood and compliment the supermarket,” Dixie said.

Dixie said programs such as Build to Work are needed to address the high poverty in the area.

“There’s a need to pre-train folks to get them prepared for entry-level as well as moving up to a career path," Dixie said. "The way this grant is designed it’s not to have you think you’re going to wash dishes for the rest of your life, but the upward mobility of a company.” 

The Onondaga County Legislature also approved $50,000 to continue another program at Jubilee Homes that offers one-on-one consulting to entrepreneurs and small businesses.