> Associated General Contractors of Missouri

Transportation Assistance Project

Transportation Assistance Project

How do you help someone attain a career that needs reliable transportation before they have a job that helps them attain reliable transportation? It is a classic chicken or egg scenario.

In the construction industry, job sites are not often accessible via public transportation, and people trying to get their first job in construction often do not own a vehicle.

As a result, stakeholders in the construction industry have come together to solve this common workforce-attraction problem.

This problem was pondered initially by representatives of the Associated General Contractors of Missouri (AGC of MO) and the United Way of Greater St. Louis (United Way), but the group quickly grew larger. Social-service agencies and nonprofits entered the conversation until many other barriers to entry and sustainability of a career were identified.

It was then decided that we could not try to solve every problem and still be able to resolve the transportation issue. This larger group then split into a Transportation Committee and a Support Services Committee. The Transportation Committee’s initiatives are the focus of this innovation created to solve the chicken or egg scenario.

This committee consisted of the AGC of MO, Building Union Diversity (BUD), St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE), St. Louis Community Credit Union, Schicker Automotive Group, and the United Way.

The first obstacle that had to be identified was: “How quickly would a car loan provider feel comfortable providing a loan?” St. Louis Community Credit Union stepped in to provide guidance based on their own internal processes.

This depth of insight allowed for the group to understand the obstacles apprentices faced in attaining reliable transportation. Having a car-loan provider at the table also gave them a better understanding of the industry and the resources it provides, and so they had a more willing attitude toward helping us achieve a solution.

From these discussions, we were able to identify the least amount of time that a car-loan provider would commit to a car loan under certain circumstances. With an initial credit check to see if there was viability with a candidate, financial coaching (provided by St. Louis Community Credit Union), and with 30 days of employment and proof of income, an apprentice could earn their car loan.

The next question was: “How does the apprentice go to work over those initial 30 days?” In the construction industry, not every job site is near a bus line or MetroLink stop, and travel times are often prohibitive and not in alignment with construction project starting times. We talked with our local public transit agency, but we were not able to come to a solution. Therefore, having a vehicle is really the only reliable form of transportation.

The initial idea we brainstormed was utilizing taxi cabs, but after conversations with some of our local providers, we realized quickly that it would not be a cost-effective or a logistically sound option. Further brainstorming brought in the concept of Uber™ or LYFT™. We found out that the United Way has a national relationship with LYFT™, and it agreed to staff the logistics of getting an apprentice from their residence to the job site and back home.

Now we needed to know: “Where can we get affordable reliable transportation for apprentices?” Through Father’s Support Network, one of the nonprofits in the Support Services Committee, Schicker Automotive Group came to the table, identifying reliable transportation in a price range between $8,000-$10,000 and working within our framework.

"I’m so grateful to have had the help to get the loan and be able to purchase my truck. That took a load off my mind as far as, ‘How am I going to get to work this morning?’ or ‘Do I have to get up extra early to make it?”

- Derik Mills, BUD graduate and first LYFT™ project participant

We then had to determine: “How are we going to identify individuals for a pilot?” The BUD program was the perfect partner; they help to diversify the construction industry, primarily aiding women and minorities in preparing for careers in the construction industry.

They truly walk with individuals as they try out various crafts, receive mentoring, OSHA, and other job-site readiness training. The BUD program director agreed to identify people within their cohort that were perfectly willing and able to be craft-workers, but did not have the reliable transportation to start their careers. Perfect!

Now that we had a plan, we decided to work with a few individuals and do a pilot. “Wait…How do we fund this pilot?” The AGC of MO reached out for funding and found a willing partner in Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield. They agreed to donate $5,000 to the AGC of Missouri Education Foundation. We were off!

Transportation Assistant Project Impact

Each of the 2018 graduates has reported that they would have been unable to get to and from the worksite during the first month without the LYFT™ services. The project participants used LYFT™ to get to their job sites every day while working to improve their credit. Within a few weeks, they were able to get a loan and purchase a vehicle of their own.
Through the transportation project, an investment of approximately $1,000 per worker provides the following benefits:

  • Reliable transportation to and from the work site for approximately four weeks, enabling the worker to get to work on time and establish a good track record
  • Financial literacy training and credit counseling from the St. Louis Community Credit Union, allowing the worker to improve their credit, put some money in savings, and prepare for the purchase of a vehicle
  • Assistance in the selection of a reliable and affordable vehicle, with a loan from the St. Louis Community Credit Union for qualified graduates

Anthony Lancia( AGC of MO), Charles Williams (SLATE), Roz Sherman-Voellinger (United Way of Greater St. Louis), and Russ Signorino (BUD)

As further evidence of the return on investment, selected apprentices who can successfully navigate daily transportation to and from work are earning starting wages of as much as $20 per hour, with wages as high as $40 per hour within four years at the journey level. Workers also receive full benefits for themselves and their families.

We hope that this inspires others to follow our lead in helping to discover innovative solutions to long-standing problems. With collaboration and a focus on the issue, nothing is insurmountable. If you are interested in donating to future apprentices’ transportation needs, please reach out to Anthony Lancia at [email protected]

Associated General Contractors of Missouri

www.agcmo.org
844-60-MOAGC (66242)
St. Louis Office 6330 Knox Industrial Dr,
Ste. 200, St. Louis, MO 63139

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