by Jeff Delp
There is no denying the power of a job and the impact it can have on the lives of a family. We’ve all heard stories of families that have seen their path altered – for better or for worse – by getting their dream job, or worse, losing their job.
At FCS, we believe strongly that stable, healthy employment is one of the factors which allows a community to flourish. I’d say that neighborhood employment has been one of my greatest joys (and challenges) in my role with Carver Market and Community Grounds over the past 10 years. These experiences have taught me the importance of hyper-local (commuting less than 1 mile) employment.
Here are some of the ways I’ve seen hyper-local employment benefit our South Atlanta neighborhood.
Reduced Transportation Expenses - Transportation is expensive, especially when you’re living on the lower end of the economic scale. Reducing the transportation costs of employment is equivalent to making $2-3 more an hour for many of our employees. Walking, biking, or even shortening the commute to a five minute drive can be transformative.
Strengthened Families - For parents, being close to their children while they are in school provides an enormous stress relief, especially if transportation is a challenge. Being able to live, work and drop kids at school all within a few blocks allows parents to maximize their time with family.
Increased Sense of Belonging - When neighbors are the ones running the store, checking out groceries, or serving coffee, we are ensuring that the our business has community buy in. Not only do we provide opportunities for neighbors to have secure jobs, but this also ensures that residents feel welcome in the business. Neighbors know this is a space for them.
Voices Heard - Authentically providing employment gives the business neighborhood cache – and when we are listening, it gives the ability to ensure products are offered that the neighbors want. One third of our products in Carver Market have come through neighbor recommendations. And our sales can prove it’s worth!
Sustained Commitment - A benefit to employment is being able to afford better housing. When we hire hyper-local employees who have housing options within their price range and are saving money on transportation, we are able to see long-term commitment from them.
After 10 years of deeply getting to know the local employment scene in South Atlanta, I have three recommendations for cities, organizations, or communities that want to prioritize providing jobs to neighborhoods like South Atlanta:
Have business owners and operators that are committed to hiring hyper-locally.
Ensure the availability of affordable housing options within one or two miles of employment opportunities.
Guarantee transportation options are available, safe, AND efficient for all types of users, including bus, walk, bike, Uber, and car.
Being committed to hyper-local employment is huge for the community immediately around the business. It fosters community buy-in and commitment. I believe through committed employers hiring hyper-locally, stable affordable housing options, and reliable transportation, we will see our communities flourish.