“Creating jobs” sounds great when companies make splashy announcements, but the Metro Council may soon require more specifics before they hand out economic incentive grants or tax breaks.
And some on the council are interested in learning more about who all would benefit when the city invests — including in the construction industry. The bill asks for information on the type and number of jobs created "during and after construction, if any" as when a contractor builds a company a new headquarters as part of an incentive deal.
Councilman Anthony Davis, sponsor of a new bill, says construction workers have been an afterthought when deciding whether a project deserves city money.
“What ends up happening is at the end, we’re always like, ‘You know, we also really want good construction jobs and we want, you know, we want the workers on every side of this to do well,’ ” Davis said.
So instead of hoping, his proposal would help inform the council up front about the contractors — their wages and benefits; whether they hire temporary or permanent workers; and if they recruit locally, among other criteria. Companies would also need to share their most recent 10 years of workplace safety records.
All of this would go to the council in the form of a "report card" before votes on incentive packages. While there aren't baseline standards that companies must meet, Davis said the council would be better equipped to evaluate the merits of a deal.
Davis said the report card could also give contractors ideas for how to improve work standards. With that in mind, his bill lists out specific types of safety certifications and workforce apprenticeships that a contractor could opt to use.
His bill also asks for annual check-ins that could claw back the perks to corporations if either they or their contractors don’t follow through on promises.
This push for transparency and higher quality construction jobs follows a failed 2016 effort to require Metro-funded construction projects to hire more local workers. After Nashville voters approved a charter amendment to that effect, it was nullified by state lawmakers — prompting city officials to vow to work with contractors and labor unions in other ways.