Columnists Mayor Eric Garcetti Opinion

COMMUNITY REPORT: Building the future at LAX with career opportunities

Last week, I visited the Midfield Satellite Concourse — a $2 billion expansion of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport.

This project is just one component of a more than $14 billion reinvention of our airport. Walking around the cavernous concourse, I had the privilege to meet with the women and men whose hard work is being written into the history of this structure.

One of those people was Terry Duplessis Jr. After wearing our country’s uniform serving in the Navy, Duplessis returned to L.A. where he worked various security jobs to make ends meet and provide for his wife and three sons. Reflecting on that time, he recalled there were “a lot of jobs, but not a lot of opportunities to get into careers.” That all changed when he read about HireLAX in The Wave.

In the City of Angels, we don’t count on the talent that is going to design, construct and operate new infrastructure coming to us. Rather, we build it right here through programs like HireLAX — a free, eight-week, 240-hour construction apprenticeship readiness program at Los Angeles Southwest College in partnership with the Los Angeles and Orange Counties Building and Construction Trades Council.

Created by Los Angeles World Airports to support LAX’s capital improvement program, HireLAX is managed by the Parsons Corporation and students are supported by our WorkSource Centers. Students and graduates gain specialized skills leading to good-paying jobs at some of our region’s biggest construction sites — from the new Rams stadium to terminal renovation projects at LAX. 

Los Angeles is a city of second chances, and a place where everybody deserves a boarding pass to a bright future. For Duplessis, “HireLAX was a great opportunity for me to get into something good” — to escape a cycle of wondering where the next paycheck will come from.

As mayor, I am committed to creating more stories like this one. And we have taken strides toward making that promise real by raising the minimum wage to $15 and passing landmark measures like Measure M — which will reinvent our infrastructure and create more than 787,000 jobs over the next four decades.

Los Angeles is the infrastructure investment capital of America, with cranes dotting the horizon and new projects continually altering the city’s skyline. Since I took office, the unemployment rate has fallen by half — precisely because we are giving Angelenos the tools to succeed in this once-in-a generation moment of transformation. That’s why workforce development programs like HireLAX are so important — because they work and put people back to work.

As an apprentice employed by Morrow-Meadows, and a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11, Duplessis is working on a state-of-the-art baggage conveyor belt that will soon be brimming with luggage from distant shores.

It has been a hard journey getting here, but it has all been worth it. One day soon, when one of his children sees the airport from the 405 or hops off the Crenshaw-LAX line to catch a flight, Duplessis can take pride in knowing he’ll be able to say, “I built that.”

In Angelenos like Terry Duplessis, I see the future of our city. HireLAX graduates are helping to build a stronger Los Angeles — an enduring gift that will be with us for generations to come.

Mayor Eric Garcetti’s “Community Report” column runs the first Thursday of every month in The Wave.