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NE WS: EMPLOYMENT // BY DOUGL A S J. GU TH STEPHEN MIDGETT T Bridging the Gap Employment group connects Cleveland’s underserved to jobs. here are two Cleve- lands, says Jill Rizika, executive director of Towards Employment. One Cleveland consists of gleaming new condominiums and office towers, she says; the other is comprised of impoverished neigh- borhoods still struggling outside the city’s much-ballyhooed renaissance. Towards Employment aspires to bridge this gap via job training and placement as well as removal of em- ployment barriers for people previously involved in the criminal justice sys- tem. Last year, the nonprofit placed 475 Greater Cleveland residents in full-time jobs and served another 1,500 partici- pants through training, career coaching and other programs. Those assisted by the organization are unemployed or underemployed, and they come from a variety of diffi- UP FRONT cult circumstances, says Rizika. About half have criminal records, while others have dealt with drug problems or company downsizing. Partici- pants are rigorously screened then placed JILL RIZIKA with one of 300 cor- porate associates offering entry-level to middle-skill positions in health care, manufacturing, construction, nutrition services and additional industries. Employment retention and career development are organizational end- goals, Rizika says. Across all programs, new workers have an average retention rate of 65 percent after 180 days. At the high end is University Hospitals, where 80 percent of employees stay on over the same time period. Not surprisingly, jobs with an upward career path are better able to keep work- Personalized service for you. Commercial banking for your bottom line. We believe that banking is about more than expert financial guidance and proven banking products. It’s also about collaboration, individualized service, and fostering economic growth in our community. We’re committed to it. And nearly 80 years of community banking expertise supports it. Let our team help yours thrive. Call Matt Lay at (216) 239-5909 or email him at mlay@ffl.net. KLargent_ComLeader_MattLay_2016_ad.indd 1 COMMUNITY LEADER 17 3/15/2016 10:56:23 AM