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New jobs fair connecting the Black community to growing environmental industry

The Think Green Jobs Fair will be held at the Gerald R. Ford Academic Center on March 16, 2016 at 6 p.m..
Grand Rapids skyline

Grand Rapids skyline /Steve Depolo

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The Think Green Jobs Fair is a free event designed to connect communities of color with education and jobs in Michigan's growing environmental market. Organized by Alvin Hills IV and Jonathan Jelks, local community organizers and entreprenurs, the jobs fair will be held on Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at the Gerald R. Ford Academic Center.

"There's an urgency or importance of working in this green space because we're connecting the Black community to the future of the workforce, especially in Michigan. We know it's going to play a huge part in our state's future so we want to make sure we're doing our best to connect people to information and to ensure that they have the tools to create a healthy lifestyle. When you have President Obama really highligting green energy and pioneering green energy here in America, and then on the international scale we know it goes back to manufacturing and jobs, who's going to produce those products for the world to go green?" says fair co-organizer, Alvin Hills IV.

To make sure their community is a part of that green future and current reality which has Forbes running an article ranking Grand Rapids as being the second worst city economically for African-Americans in the United States, Jelks and Hills continue to organize.

"We've been identifying different industries that our community wasn't connect to. The Tech Mentoring Program was the first piece and then for the green space, this is the next piece. We're trying to touch on the innovative industries that are thriving now and will continue to in the future, and ensuring that we connect students, parents, and young people to job opportunities in those spaces," says Hills.

The jobs fair will begin with a meet and greet time for community members to walk among various tables and booths to speak with area businesses, schools, and organizations about the needs in the environmental industry. Organizations present will be the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, LINC, West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, Rockford Construction, City of Grand Rapids Environmental Service Department.

"We got into this type of work through the environmental groups connecting us to their knowledge and expertise in the field. The partnership was formed because WMEAC and other great players already have the knowledge and expertise, and connecting communities of color to that information is where we come in," says Hills.

The event is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Hors d'oeuvres will be provided. The Gerald R. Ford Academic Center is located at 851 Madison Avenue SE.

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