DENVER (CBS4)– Elijah Beauford is as young and ambitious as that makes him sound. The 18-year-old is one of the latest people to land a job in the construction industry through the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Central 70 Project.
The 4-week program is open to anyone and gives them hands-on experience, preparing them for a job in construction.
“They would work with you one-on-one and really be compassionate to make sure you know what’s going on. They really want to see you succeed,” told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.
Elijah wants to be a contractor and saw the program as a fast lane into the industry. He also liked the price… it’s free. A month after he graduated he landed a job with Envirocon. He says he wasn’t nervous during his interview because he felt the program prepared him.
“I was real confident in myself because I know I want to be a general contractor. I know what I want to do with my life and I know what I bring to the table,” said Elijah.
The Central 70 Project will dramatically impact the community from Colorado Boulevard to Brighton Boulevard. CDOT is now hiring people who live there.
“The Central 70 Project is by itself a major economic driver for the entire Denver-metro region. CDOT wanted to also ensure that these economic and job opportunities were made available to local residents,” said Shailen Bhatt, CDOT Executive Director. “CDOT is one of only a few DOTs in the nation to implement local hiring and we are doing this not just by setting hiring goals but by actively reaching out to our partners to create a comprehensive support system that makes a career in construction accessible for everyone.”
The zero cost training was part of the agreement with the Central 70 Project, the City of Denver and an investment from Gary Community Investments.
It requires 20 percent of the Central 70 workforce (the equivalent of approximately 350 local residents), to be hired from 15 local neighborhoods adjacent to I-70 in Denver and Aurora.
The neighborhood career training and resource center, which opened in July, doesn’t just offer physical construction training. It offer six courses in a facility with three work bays, four hands-on training rooms and a yard designated for heavy equipment. It also offers support services, including an on-site financial counselor.
Elijah says this program gave him everything he needed to get his foot in the door.
“I want to be able to break the mold, become one of the first and only black contractors in Colorado. On top of that be able to make and manage affordable living for minorities in the community.”