Biden Administration Officials Visit Franklin County for Town Hall

Praise Building Trades’ Workforce Development in Central Ohio

The Columbus Building and Construction Trades Council, Building Futures and Iron Workers Local 172 hosted Biden administration officials for an apprenticeship training center tour, followed by a Franklin County Town Hall.

Tom Perez, Senior Advisor to President Biden and former U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Obama, toured the Iron Workers Local 172 Training Center and met with teachers and staff. Leading the tour was Charles Straley, a journeyman member of Iron Workers Local 172, whose career began in the Building Futures program.

Building Futures is a nationally recognized, award-winning Apprenticeship Readiness Program funded by the Franklin County Commissioners in partnership with Creating Central Ohio Futures and the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council and supported by the Columbus NAACP.

Ironworkers Local 172 journeyman and Building Futures Instructor Charles Straley

Ironworkers Local 172 journeyman and Building Futures Instructor Charles Straley talks with a reporter prior to a visit by Biden Administration Senior Official Tom Perez.

“Building Futures was a game changer,” said Straley, who is now a Building Futures instructor. “I truly have a career, not just a job. I thought I was just getting into the construction field, but it turned out to be much more. I am part of a Brotherhood. I help change other people’s lives through public speaking, outreach and teaching.”

Following the tour, Perez led a moderated Town Hall meeting to hear from Franklin County residents about the issues that matter most to them as part of a series of events called Communities in Action: Building a Better America, which aims to celebrate the administration’s efforts to create opportunities for families nationwide.

“The investments that the Biden-Harris Administration has made in communities like ours are making real differences in the lives of Franklin County families,” said Board of Commissioners President John O’Grady. “Building Futures is a county investment that supports struggling residents and our local economy, which is in dire need of more hard-working tradespeople.”

Perez’s visit follows a May 2023 White House announcement that named Central Ohio as one of five Workforce Hubs, which are areas around the country where historic legislation signed into law by President Biden – American Rescue Plan; Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act; the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act – have catalyzed private and public investments and created good-paying jobs.

Ironworkers Local 172 apprentices show off their skillset during a visit from Senior White Official Tom Perez.

Ironworkers Local 172 apprentices show off their skillset during a visit from Senior White Official Tom Perez.

“Communities In Action is all about building a better America from the bottom up and the middle out,” said Perez. “It’s about learning about the issues that local families are facing and about celebrating local leaders like the Franklin County Commissioners, who are delivering real results for their residents with investments made possible by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda.

“Building Futures is the kind of partnership that communities all over the country will want to replicate, and a very necessary initiative to create more skilled tradespeople in a community that’s growing as quickly as this one,” he added.

“President Biden has been focused throughout his presidency on building American communities back to greatness following the pandemic and years of disinvestment,” said Franklin County Commissioner Kevin L. Boyce. “His successes with legislation like the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act have provided opportunities for working families across the country and in Franklin County, and the county’s innovative workforce programs are helping our residents climb the ladder of economic opportunity.”

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