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UCF Hosts Community Forum on Creating Jobs

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By Karen Guin

Some two dozen community members gathered at the University of Central Florida on Dec. 11 to share ideas on how to create jobs at a meeting held in response to a request from the White House.

Thomas Bryer, assistant professor of public administration, responded to a call from the Obama administration for community leaders to convene job forums throughout the country. The objective of the forums is to obtain citizen input on how to reduce the nation's high unemployment rate.

Among those attending the UCF forum were representatives from state government, job placement organizations, nonprofit organizations, education, a green technology company and a business consulting firm.

At the meeting, Bryer posed a series of discussion questions provided by the White House. The participants responded with their thoughts on creating jobs and economic recovery, including the following:

• Florida has a  unique competitive edge in some areas, such as simulation and modeling. We need to infuse money into these areas to spur job growth.

• Investment in innovations, such as green technologies, is key to the region's economic recovery.

• The White House needs to know that big business should not squelch entrepreneurs.

• The region needs to develop more health-services-related positions.

• Nonprofits in Central Florida are really suffering. They are the safety net for our community, yet they are not "at the table" during discussions about resolving the economic crisis.

• Small businesses do much of the hiring, yet they are currently running their businesses on a credit card.

• We have to find ways to educate people so they can do the jobs that do become available.

• We need to move ex-felons into careers that offer pension plans and health benefits.

In addition, some attendees proposed holding other local forums, such as one specifically for small-business owners, to gather additional input.

Bryer will summarize ideas from the UCF forum and possible spin-off forums in a report he will submit to the White House in the coming weeks.

"I think it was a good conversation that clearly demonstrated the complexity of the issue and allowed some thoughtful leaders from the community to consider the future," Bryer said.

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