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Can Cleveland require contractors to hire local workers?

Adrian Ma Apr 30, 2019
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Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in downtown Cleveland is undergoing a $185 million renovation. The construction firm on the project has voluntarily agreed to comply with a local ordinance that requires contractors on certain publicly funded construction projects allocate at least 20% of the work hours to Cleveland residents.
Adrian Ma/ideastream

The city of Cleveland has an ordinance, known locally as the Fannie Lewis law, that requires contractors working on projects that receive more than $100,000 in city funds to hire city residents for at least 20% of the construction work hours. If a contractor doesn’t comply, it has to pay a fine. City officials say that attaching these strings to public projects helped Clevelanders pull in at least $34 million in construction wages between 2013 and 2016. And yet, while other cities, such as Detroit and Boston, have similar “local hire” rules, Cleveland’s could be overturned if Ohio’s Supreme Court decides that a state law prohibiting such “residency quotas” takes precedence.

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