Jammin For Jobs

Owner of 123 Pleasant Street L.J Giuliani stands in a truck outside on Saturday.

The New Jobs Coalition, an employment-focused advocacy group, hosted a free “Jammin for Jobs” concert at 123 Pleasant Street over the weekend as a way to raise awareness and gain support for the THRIVE Act.

The THRIVE Act is a legislative proposal to authorize economic investments of at least $1 trillion per year for the next decade. THRIVE stands for: Transform, Heal and Renew by Investing in a Vibrant Economy. 

“We believe that West Virginia can once again power the nation,” said Ethan Shaffer, an organizer with the West Virginia New Jobs Coalition. “And when we do so, we want to be the ones building the solar panels. We want to be the ones building the wind energy, and we want to be the ones paving our roads, rebuilding our bridges, investing in our infrastructure.”

An independent economic analysis from the University of Massachusetts Amherst finds that a bold economic renewal plan, as outlined in the THRIVE Agenda, would create nearly 16 million new jobs.

Advocates for the plan hope to gain support to pass this economic recovery package to cut climate pollution in half by 2030 and confront systemic racism and gender, economic and environmental injustice, according to the statement made on their official website

Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, and U.S Rep. Debbie Dingell, MI-12, introduced the THRIVE Agenda in Congress earlier this year. It has gathered the support of more than 100 members of Congress and over 280 organizations to date.

“The compounding crises that are affecting our country today — mounting economic inequity, the climate crisis, racial injustice, and the coronavirus pandemic — all require a bold, intersectional, and immediate response from the federal government,” said Sen. Markey in a statement supporting the introduction of the legislation, “New leadership in the White House, driven by justice and science, is giving us the opportunity to recover from the past administration's negligence and truly allow our communities to thrive.”

123 Pleasant Street venue owner L.J. Giuliani supports the THRIVE Agenda and offered up his location to be used for the event. 

“I think it’s important,” Giuliani said. “It ties in racial justice and environmental issues that affect us. Not just us, but our kids and your kids.” 

The bill includes investments to upgrade West Virginia’s infrastructure for clean water, affordable public transit and a reliable electric grid; to expand access to wind and solar power, electric vehicles and healthy buildings; to protect rural and urban spaces, wetlands, prairies, forests and support family farmers who are embracing regenerative agriculture; and to invest in public institutions and care for children and the elderly. 

The bill also requires the U.S. federal government to respect the sovereignty of indigenous Nations in making these investments.  It would mandate the government honor its trust responsibilities and require the free, prior and informed consent of tribes for all investments affecting them.

“We want to bring 50,000 jobs to the state of West Virginia,” Schaffer said. “We know West Virginians in general support it so we want everybody to pressure Senator Manchin and Senator Capito to take this bold action that West Virginians deserve because for far too long West Virginians have been just surviving and not thriving.” 

Additionally, the bill requires that at least half of the new investments directly benefit Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Arab, Asian and Pacific Islander communities because they've borne the brunt of systemic racism, environmental injustice and economic exclusion.

“We believe that the THRIVE Act can truly help West Virginians all across the state,” Schaffer said.

The WV New Jobs Coalition plans to host more events in the future until the Act is passed. Schaffer said to get involved and show support, text WVJOBS to 30403 and download WV THRIVE Jobs Report.