The room was thick with anticipation.
With cameras rolling and standing room only, New Community officials announced the kickoff of its rejuvenated job training program conducted in partnership with ShopRite and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka’s administration, which is designed to put more than 200 job seekers to work.
The press conference, hosted at New Community Workforce Development Center, drew civic leaders and corporate partners to highlight what NCC Director of Workforce Development Rodney Brutton said was the common goal of everyone in attendance.
“It’s about jobs and employment,” Brutton said.
Baraka spoke on behalf of the City of Newark, which is providing the funding to train about 200 job seekers at a miniature ShopRite located at NCC that will be fully outfitted by the supermarket chain with cash registers, check-out lanes and aisles of groceries. Called the ShopRite Partners in Training Program, the six-week course operated by NCC will use ShopRite’s curriculum to prepare job seekers for various store associate positions. Once the ShopRite of Newark opens in Spring of 2015, trainees will be prepared to land a job at the new 67,000-square-foot store or another area ShopRite.
“That is the model that works,” said New Community CEO Richard Rohrman, noting the crucial role that NCC plays in helping trainees secure employment. The Partners in Training Program with ShopRite was started by NCC in 2000 but the recent financial boost has given new life to the program in the midst of funding challenges.
Standing at the podium with a backdrop of NCC’s logo and other partnering entities, Baraka emphasized the importance of having a training system in place, such as what NCC Workforce Development Center offers, to “have the apparatus to give people the skills they need.”
Newark resident Anthony Miller was unemployed before he entered the training program.
“ShopRite is a good opportunity for me,” Miller, 47, said.
The future ShopRite of Newark will be the anchor tenant of a 125,000-square-foot retail complex on Springfield Avenue that will “transform that entire part of the city,” the mayor said.
“Today is a very, very exciting day for me,” he added. The owner of the ShopRite of Newark, Neil Greenstein, also offered remarks and greeted several trainees in attendance, who donned black polo shirts emblazoned with the ShopRite logo.
“We expect to be a vital part of this community, your neighbor and a supermarket with a heart,” Greenstein said.