Atlanta: Problems and Promise
(Page 4 of 4)
D. Raymond Riddle, president of First National Bank of Atlanta, says Atlanta cannot develop ''in isolation'' from the surrounding counties. Better transportation is needed for Atlanta's jobless to reach the increasing number of jobs in the counties, he says. ''I believe 99 percent of those people (the jobless in Atlanta) want to work,'' he asserts. He says government should take a lead role in training the jobless.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But government job-training funds are being cut by the Reagan administration. A federally funded job-training program run by the Urban League, which placed 10 blacks a month in skilled trades, has just been eliminated.
The program was just a drop in the bucket compared with the needs here, but now ''even the drops are drying up,'' complains Atlanta Urban League executive director Lyndon Wade. Joblessness is increasing and so is desperation, he says. ''We're seeing it in the faces and the eyes of the people who come to us for help.''''
Among the jobless are many educated blacks, trained for jobs with limited openings, says Mortimer Cox, the Urban League's employment director. The motivation for someone to find and work upward on a job has to ''come from within,'' he says. In the long run, some federal job fund cutbacks may spur greater self-reliance, he says.
One tactic Atlanta is using to keep jobs is to convince local businesses to stay. But one of the big lures was federal loans and grants for plant renovation and other needs, and those are being cut back sharply, says J. Russell Simmons Jr., deputy director of the Atlanta Economic Development Corporation.
The corporation is also helping establish several industrial parks in Atlanta , including one near the new airport. But, says Mr. Simmons, ''The private sector has got to come forward and do it (help train the unemployed).
Others here call for better focusing of vocational training to match the shift in jobs here toward computer and other so-called ''hi tech'' jobs.
There already is a need for trained clerical help. And according to downtown booster Sweat, some 3,000-5,000 hotel jobs will be opening before long in Atlanta, jobs many blacks are reluctant to take, he says. He predicts many of the hotel jobs will go to members of Atlanta's Asian and Latin communities who are eager for any work. Race relations
Although voting in the mayoral election was assumed largely along racial lines, it cannot be assumed to be a racist vote, says City Councillor-elect Davis. Race was a ''tremendous factor'' in the election, she says, ''I think Atlanta is far ahead of many other cities. It (the issue of race) is open; at least we talk about it.''
Actually, the election may have shown more biracial support of candidates than is generally recognized. Georgia State Professor Eplan says that about 1 out of 4 Atlanta voters may have voted for someone of another race.
City Council president Marvin Arrington was impressed that a few days after election some three-dozen white and black leaders came to a meeting he called to discuss working together for the city. ''The community stands together or falls together,'' he said, speaking of the need for citywide cooperation on tackling problems such as joblessness.
In a small but potentially much larger private effort, the Christian Council of Metropolitan Atlanta has begun arranging meetings in black public housing projects that include white women from affluent areas. The participants talk and work on projects of common interest, such as crafts. The idea is to ''build bridges of understand between the races and sections of the city, says the council's executive director, the Rev. Donald Newby.