Labor & Business

Residents push city to enforce resident-first hiring ordinance

The First Source ordinance, which was passed in 1986, guarantees that when the city supplies $25k or more in city loans, subsidies, or tax breaks to a development and the development has more than four employees, the company must hire Providence residents.

Published on October 7, 2022
By Steve Ahlquist

“There [are] companies that come into Providence, get huge tax breaks, and haven’t…hired Providence residents, which is part of the [tax stabilization agreements],” said activist John Prince in front of the Providence City Hall on Friday.

Prince was there with supporters and activists from Providence and Boston to call for robust enforcement of First Source, which was passed in 1986 to guarantee that when the city supplies $25k or more in city loans, subsidies or tax breaks to a development and the development has more than four employees, the company must hire Providence residents. If the company is unable to fill a position with a Providence resident they may get permission to hire a non-resident from the city. If the First Source ordinance is violated, the city should theoretically “claw back” the tax break.

Flyer for the October 19 First Source rally

Unfortunately, the First Source is not effectively enforced by the city, say activists. The city has failed to enforce the ordinance despite a court ruling going back 10 years ordering them to do so.

“We’re here today to say the First Source needs to come first,” said Prince. “The city needs to honor that. This is a Providence ordinance and [developers] haven’t been in compliance.”

The city, said Prince, “has been giving out these tax breaks like they’re Halloween candy.” When the company doesn’t employ Providence workers, the city council’s job is “to snatch back these tax breaks and give it back to the people…

“First Source is a sleeping giant, and we need to wake that giant up.”

Prince also wanted to call attention to a bigger push for First Source that will happen in front of the Providence City Hall on October 19 at 2pm, where, in partnership with the Incarcerated Workers Union, activists will call out the Mayor Jorge Elorza and City Council President John Igliozzi for not enforcing the First Source ordinance.

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