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New D.C. Jobs Program Faces Challenges

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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is pitching the One City, One Hire program to promote job growth in the District -- opinions are divided on whether it will help.
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D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray is pitching the One City, One Hire program to promote job growth in the District -- opinions are divided on whether it will help.

As the unemployment rate in D.C. continues to rise, Mayor Vincent Gray is pitching his new job placement program to area business leaders. It’s called the One City, One Hire program. Modeled after an Atlanta program that helped thousands find work, it offers tax credits, wage subsidies and other incentives to companies that hire at least one unemployed resident.

With the D.C. Chamber of Commerce already on board for the plan, Gray went to work Tuesday on the city’s other major business organization -- the Washington Board of Trade, which represents businesses from all over the region.

After speaking to members at the St. Regis Hotel in downtown D.C., Gray says he got some key support.

“We got a commitment from Jim Dinegar, who of course is the CEO of the Board of Trade, and it starts with him," says Gray. "We actually have 120 firms already committed, but having him on board is absolutely critical.”

While Board CEO Jim Dinegar supports the effort, he cautions that in this economic climate companies aren’t going to hire workers as part of what he calls, “a charitable effort.”

“People aren’t going to hire people for a tax credit or $1,500," Dinegar says. "They won’t turn it down, but that’s not the tipping point."

The tipping point, Dinegar says, will be when consumer demand picks up and companies feel they have to hire someone.

Gray’s goal is to find work for at least 10,000 residents through the program.

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