Group hopes to connect jobless to airport expansion

Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 615 N. Broad St., site of Tuesday’s economic justice forum. — PHOTO COURTESY NAKED PHILADELPHIA

Its first meeting resulted in Philadelphia City Councilmen Kenyatta Johnson and Curtis Jones both supporting its platform.

Now, POWER — Philadelphians Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild — hopes to make further inroads with its second “Economic Justice Forum” to be held Tuesday, June 12 at Congregation Rodeph Shalom, 615 N. Broad St. That meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

The topic du jour is the planned $6-billion expansion of the Philadelphia International Airport, a project that is slated to create thousands of temporary and permanent jobs. The expansion could take 15 years to complete.

POWER’s officials want to make sure that an equal portion of the jobs created by the project go to qualified minority workers.

Longtime Arch Street United Methodist Church Reverend Robin Hynicka said he has seen the damages wrought by economic inequality, and has prayed that a project like this would come along and revitalize the economy — and certainly the qualified workers among his flock.

“For over 30 years, I have prayed with unemployed and underemployed folks who live in neighborhoods with high rates of poverty. While some of my prayers were answered and individuals found work, far too many others in the neighborhood never did. I am still praying but the prayer is bigger, bolder and in unison with clergy and laity from over 36 congregations,” Hynicka said. “Our collaborative prayer includes the vision for 10,000 new jobs for unemployed Philadelphians, the creation of training programs and support systems that provide preparation for these jobs and the passing of legislation that creates a practical pathway to these jobs. 

“In particular, this prayer includes support for City Council to enact legislation that will provide opportunity for Philadelphia residents to work at the temporary and permanent jobs that will be created by the Philadelphia International Airport Expansion Project,” he added.

This is the second of four such meetings POWER has established at community locations throughout the city. Council members Johnson and Jones attended the last meeting, and Council members Bill Green, David Oh and Mark Squilla have confirmed their attendance for Tuesday’s meeting, POWER officials said.

The timing is crucial. Earlier this month, the city took a huge step forward in the planning of the expansion, hiring three firms to manage the logistics of the project. Minority firms Delon Hampton & Associates and CMTS Inc. will join CH2M Hill, the lead planning company for the expansion.

The project has met some opposition, particularly from residents of Tinicum Township, several of whom may be dislocated by the expansion. US Airways — one the airport’s biggest users — has also filed a federal lawsuit to block the expansion.


Contact staff writer Damon C. Williams at (215) 893-5745 or

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