CB4 Launches Community Job Site


Local stores in CB4 will be able to post job openings on the CB4 website.

A man walks into El Ranchito Del Agave, a Mexican restaurant on Ninth Avenue, one of many local restaurants in Community Board 4. Photo: Qi Chen.

Steve Hoover, manager of the Market Café on Ninth Avenue and West 37th Street, always thought that spending $25 on a job ad on Craigslist was ineffective. He also spent money on Village Voice job listings, and watched as they got pushed further down with each update.

When he heard about Community Board 4’s new jobs website, he already had a plan. “I am absolutely interested in using it,” said Hoover, when Market Café hires again in two months.

The CB4 jobs website is a part of the Community Jobs Project, an initiative started by the Budget Task Force in April 2012 to help reduce unemployment in the neighborhood. Raul Larios, the leader of the Budget Task Force, presented the designs for the job website at the community board general meeting on Nov. 7. The website will be based on the CB4 homepage, under the “Job Opportunities” link.

A mock website is currently available for view. By mid-December, CB4 hopes to launch the website with local job openings from all over Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, making it a support system for residents and a focus for local job fairs.

“We want to make the website a middleman in terms of reaching out to employers,” said Larios. Employers can list their job openings for free on the community website, instead of using paid services like Monster.com. Interested employers will provide CB4 with either a hyperlink to their job posting website or a PDF document outlining the job, which would then be uploaded on to the jobs webpage.

“I will definitely use it,” said Jakrapop Panurach, manager of Thai Select on Ninth Avenue. The restaurant uses its website to display pictures of dishes from their menu, but not for  job listings.

“A job site would be very useful,” said Panurach. He is in charge of handling walk-in applications, and felt that individual requests by email were bothersome.

Currently, jobless residents have a tough time finding work on the internet. Out of a sample of 23 non-chain businesses between West 32nd Street and West 38th Street, only eight had private websites, and none of them had a “job opening” or “career opportunities” page.

A job ad on a restaurant window.

A job ad on the window of El Rancito Del Agave. Restaurants in CB4 don’t often use technology to find new employees. Photo: Qi Chen.

Instead of posting online, some restaurants continue to use employment agencies. George Papas, the manager of Skylight Diner on West 34th Street, said that he used Times Square Employment Agency for worker replacements, both long-term and short-term. The diner pays nothing to the agency; instead, the workers pay a fee.

In case of emergencies, if an employee could not come to work, Papas would call the agency in the morning for on-call workers to fill the job.

During Hurricane Sandy, employees who lived in New Jersey had to carpool in groups of six to come into Manhattan. Papas acknowledged the advantages to hiring in the neighborhood, and said that he will use the CB4 website once it is launched.

“Even if they have to walk 15 blocks, they could do it,” he said.

Larios and the community board planned to get businesses involved in the jobs website through their liquor license renewals, which read, “Will you inform the Community Board office of your job openings and/or provide a hyperlink to your jobs webpage?”

Once the license is approved by CB4, the clause will become legally binding. The details regarding how many new hires, and when the hiring would occur, would then be negotiated verbally between CB4 and the business owner.

As part of the Chelsea Market’s application for expansion, Community Board 4 added a lengthy condition related to job openings on the website, which reads, “The applicant agrees to place a link to its job openings on the CB4 website, to hold periodic job fairs in coordination with CB4, and to work with its current and future tenants on a best efforts basis to identify and hire employees from within Community Board 4.”

CB4 is currently processing two liquor license applications in which the employers have agreed to post job openings on the new website. Once the applications are approved at the next general board meeting on Dec. 5, the businesses will be contacted regarding their postings.

By the end of 2013, Larios’s team hopes to have thousands of visitors to the job website each month. News of the website’s launch will be announced to various neighborhood associations and public housing authorities in CB4 through flyers, and unemployed residents in public housing developments will be one of the target audiences.

Although employers are urged to hire local residents, Hoover said experience remains the most important factor when considering hiring new employees.

“I would only give preference to the best candidate, so no priority to locals… But typically the applicants are local residents,” he said.