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Does Sacramento Have Enough Qualified Workers For Downtown Arena Project?

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — On the eve of a Sacramento City Council vote to fund a new downtown arena, the unemployment rate for the construction industry is hovering around 20 percent.

Construction on the arena is supposed to create thousands of jobs, with more than half of those new jobs expected to go to people living in Sacramento.

While many are ready to pick up a hammer, do they have the skills to get hired for the arena project?

A vote on financing for the project is expected to pass on Tuesday, paving the way for construction to start at the Downtown Plaza site.

That vote can’t come soon enough for thousands of local contractors.

“The skilled workers, the journeymen and above are sitting out there waiting for work in the Sacramento area,” said Dennis Canavari with the Sacramento-Sierra Building & Construction Trade Council.

Sacramento Kings President Chris Granger says the team is committed to hiring local.

“We work closely with Turner Construction as well as other labor-based organizations to make sure we hit those targets in store for us,” he said.

The target is 60 percent, meaning more than half of the workers hired would have to come from the Sacramento region.

Leader of the Asian Chamber of Commerce Pat Fong Kushida says there are 13,000 local contractors with enough experience. The challenge is getting them in the right place to know how to get hired.

“We have to create that front door so any business that is interested in pursuing this opportunity can get connected immediately,” Kushida said.

Once work gets started at the Downtown Plaza site, contractors like Canavari believe this will only be the beginning of the construction boom.

“Hopefully this will be the genesis of more construction in Sacramento, and it’s not just, hey I built the arena and that’s all that’s down here,” he said.

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