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December 9, 2022 11:26 pm

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Tropical Storm Nicole causes U.S. flight cancellations

2022-11-10T22:48:42Z A view of the Daytona Beach Main Street Pier ahead of the expected arrival of Hurricane Nicole, in Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S., November 9, 2022. REUTERS/Marco Bello Airlines in the United States canceled more than 1,350 flights on Thursday as Tropical Storm Nicole made landfall on the east coast of Florida, forcing airports in […]

The post Tropical Storm Nicole causes U.S. flight cancellations first appeared on The Puerto Rico Times.

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Ukraine says Russians will take at least a week to leave Kherson city

2022-11-10T22:03:00Z Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday (November 7) that Donetsk region in the east remained the “epicentre” of fighting in the conflict, with hundreds of Russians being killed every day. Ukrainian troops pushed towards the southern strategic river port of Kherson after Moscow ordered one of the war’s biggest retreats, although officials fear […]

The post Ukraine says Russians will take at least a week to leave Kherson city first appeared on The Puerto Rico Times.

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DeSantis emerges as the Trump alternative after Florida landslide – Tampa Bay Times

DeSantis emerges as the Trump alternative after Florida landslide  Tampa Bay Times
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In Major Retreat, Russia Orders Withdrawal From Ukrainian City of Kherson

By Tom Balmforth and Jonathan Landay

KYIV/NOVOOLEXANDRIVKA, Ukraine (Reuters)—Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday ordered his troops to withdraw from the west bank of the Dnipro River in the face of Ukrainian attacks near the southern city of Kherson, a significant retreat and potential turning point in the war.

Ukraine reacted with caution to the announcement, saying some Russian forces were still in Kherson.

“Until the Ukrainian flag is flying over Kherson, it makes no sense to talk about a Russian withdrawal,” Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said in a statement to Reuters.

Kherson city was the only regional capital Russia had captured since its invasion in February and the abandonment of such a strategic prize would be a major setback for what Moscow terms its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

In televised comments, General Sergei Surovikin, in overall command of the war, reported to Shoigu that it was no longer possible to supply Kherson city. He said he proposed to take up defensive lines on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River.

Shoigu told Surovikin: “I agree with your conclusions and proposals. For us, the life and health of Russian servicemen is always a priority. We must also take into account the threats to the civilian population.

“Proceed with the withdrawal of troops and take all measures to ensure the safe transfer of personnel, weapons and equipment across the Dnipro River.”

The news followed weeks of Ukrainian advances towards the city and a race by Russia to relocate tens of thousands of its residents.

“We will save the lives of our soldiers and fighting capacity of our units. Keeping them on the right (western) bank is futile. Some of them can be used on other fronts,” Surovikin said.

TOP RUSSIAN OFFICIAL DIES

Kherson is the main city of the region of the same name – one of four Ukrainian regions that President Vladimir Putin proclaimed in September he was incorporating into Russia “for ever”, and which the Kremlin said had now been placed under Moscow’s nuclear umbrella.

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, on a visit to London, welcomed the “encouraging” news from Kherson, and noted the substantial military help the alliance was providing to Kyiv.

“The victories, the gains the Ukrainian armed forces are making belongs to the brave, courageous Ukrainian soldiers but of course the support they receive from the United Kingdom, from NATO allies and partners is also essential,” said Stoltenberg.

Compounding the sense of Russian disarray in Kherson, Moscow’s number two official there, Kirill Stremousov, was killed on Wednesday in what Moscow said was a car crash.

Stremousov was one of the most prominent faces of Russia’s occupation. Ukraine viewed him as a collaborator and a traitor.

In a video statement only hours before his death, Stremousov denounced what he called Ukrainian “Nazis” and said the Russian military was in “full control” of the situation in the south.

However, there has been mounting speculation in recent weeks that Moscow could either withdraw its forces from the west bank of the Dnipro or dig in for a bloody battle.

Earlier on Wednesday, the main bridge on a road out of Kherson city was blown up.

Photos on the internet showed the span of the Darivka bridge on the main highway east out of Kherson completely collapsed into the water of the Inhulets River, a tributary of the Dnipro. Reuters verified the location of the images.

Ukrainians who posted photos of the destroyed bridge speculated that it had been blown up by Russian troops in preparation for a retreat.

Vitaly Kim, the Ukrainian governor of the Mykolaiv region, which borders Kherson, suggested Ukrainian forces had pushed some Russians out.

“Russian troops are complaining that they have already been thrown out of there,” Kim said in a statement on his Telegram channel.

‘A TRAGIC PAGE’

The pullout announcement had been anticipated by Russia’s influential war bloggers, who described it as a bitter blow.

“Apparently we will leave the city, no matter how painful it is to write about it now,” said the War Gonzo blog, which has more than 1.3 million subscribers on Telegram.

“In simple terms, Kherson can’t be held with bare hands,” it said. “Yes, this is a black page in the history of the Russian army. Of the Russian state. A tragic page.”

Further east, in Novoolexandrivka, a village on a hilly bank of the Dnipro in territory recaptured by advancing Ukrainian troops last month, the thunder of near constant rocket and artillery fire echoed on Wednesday from the front 10 km (6 miles) away.

“We’re kicking them off this bank and we will kick them off the other bank,” said Oleh, a Ukrainian soldier.

Since pulling out, the Russians have pounded the area every day, villagers and soldiers said. Around a third of residents, some 230 people, have stayed behind.

“They won’t let me die in peace. I want to be able to die in peace at the end of my life,” complained Mariia Lytvynova, 92, as she leant on a walking stick under a trellised archway hung with vines ripe with red grapes leading to her small home.

“I have already survived one war,” she said, referring to World War II, when the region was occupied by Nazi Germany.

“What will happen with the young people? I am done with my life. But they have to carry on.”

(Additional reporting by Peter Graff, Pavel Polityuk and Reuters bureaux; Writing by Peter Graff and Alex Richardson; Editing by Jon Boyle and Gareth Jones)

The post In Major Retreat, Russia Orders Withdrawal From Ukrainian City of Kherson appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hopes bipartisan US support for Ukraine won’t end after midterms





CNN

 — 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was concerned about recent “mixed messages” from Republican lawmakers on aid for Kyiv and told CNN that his top priority was preserving bipartisan support from the United States after the midterm elections, as Russia’s war on his country nears the nine-month mark.

The Ukrainian leader, who has the task of keeping morale high in a grueling conflict marked by strikes on energy infrastructure, relentless civilian deaths and human rights violations, said support from the US “sends a very significant, powerful signal.”

Zelensky and his wife, Olena Zelenska, spoke to CNN’s Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview Wednesday, a day after the US midterm elections, the outcome of which could shift the steady stream of military aid sent by the Biden administration to Kyiv.

“We are grateful for bipartisan support. We would really like to have this bipartisan support remain after the elections,” Zelensky said. “There have been these mixed messages that were in the US mass media, particularly from the Republican side … that we need to be more careful about supporting Ukraine – and maybe that at a certain point, the support could be reduced. For us this is a very concerning signal.”

07 zelenskys interview

Anton Kulakowskiy

Zelensky’s comments come after a warning in October from Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that Kyiv could not “expect a blank check” if his party won back control of the House following this week’s vote. But Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to continue to aid Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Zelensky said that strong US support was vital to maintaining Western unity with Kyiv as the war grinds into the winter.

“Whenever the United States support us financially, then Europe joins this support as well. And we feel it very strongly, because winning this war over Russian terror is only possible through united support,” he told CNN.

From attending virtual summits to hosting closed-door discussions, Zelensky has tried to keep world leaders engaged with the conflict partly to combat so-called “donor fatigue,” as Western allies weigh up the cost of sending financial aid to Ukraine while handling economic and political pressures at home.

“This word ‘fatigue,’ it’s a big word. You can’t get fatigued,” he said. “It’s too early for all of us to get fatigued … When Russia truly wants peace, we will definitely feel it and see that. But you know, you can’t wish for peace with words alone.”

The Kremlin announced the withdrawal of Russian troops from a swathe of the occupied region of Kherson on Wednesday.

The Ukrainian president spoke to CNN before Russia announced that its troops were preparing a stunning retreat from a large part of occupied Kherson.

That withdrawal would relinquish huge swathes of Ukrainian territory that Moscow has occupied since the early days of the war.

The order is a significant setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in September formally declared Kherson one of four Ukrainian regions that would be illegally annexed by Moscow following a series of referendums dismissed as “a sham” by Western governments.

It also marks a step forward for Kyiv, as both sides have been caught in a long and taxing battle for control of the key southern region.

Zelensky was reluctant to offer details on his administration’s plans to retake Kherson, but said: “These planned military actions, they are discussed in a small circle, but then they’re executed in silence. And I really want to have an unpleasant surprise for the enemy, and not something they are prepared for.”

In the past month, Putin has dealt with decreasing military supplies, plummeting morale among Russian troops and increased isolation from world leaders, while Zelensky has worked to counter an onslaught of deadly strikes wiping out large parts of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

With no end to the conflict in sight, Zelensky told Amanpour he has not ruled out peace negotiations with his counterpart in Moscow.

“Other than ultimatums, I’ve not heard anything from the current president of the Russian Federation,” he said.

“But I haven’t closed the door. I said we would be ready to talk to Russia – but with a different Russia. One that is truly ready for peace. One that is ready to recognize that they are occupiers … They need to return everything. Land, rights, freedom, money. And most importantly, justice.

“And so far, I haven’t heard statements like that from the Russian Federation – either from Putin or from anyone else.”

08 zelenskys interview

Anton Kulakowskiy

When the Kremlin launched its brutal assault on Ukraine in February, Zelensky perhaps did not envision being at the center of Europe’s biggest conflict in decades nearly nine months later.

“You asked whether I thought this war would last so long. No, because I didn’t start this war. And I’m sure there isn’t a single Ukrainian who knew what this will be – and what tragedy this would bring to every home in our country,” he said.

“But Ukrainian society united, and showed that it was ready for what unfortunately was such a tragedy.”

The conflict in Ukraine has shaken global economies, exacerbated world hunger and inflamed a refugee crisis in Europe, but for the Ukrainian president and the first lady the reality of war at home is ever present.

There have been nearly 6,500 civilians killed since the war began, including 403 children, according to recent figures from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Meanwhile, humanitarian bodies have accused Moscow of human rights violations amid mass relocations of civilians, including children, from Ukraine and allegations of sexual violence against women in occupied regions.

“It’s a big tragedy that our children are being taken away to Russia. There’s a large number of children who our social services lost connection with, and we can’t find them,” Zelenska said.

“As regards helping those children who suffered psychologically from the horrors of war. Now there’s hundreds of these children already. And we can’t even imagine what those children suffered, who had to bury their own mother in the yards of their homes, who saw their relatives murdered, who stayed in the basements of Mariupol. We can only observe them and try to help.”

01 zelenskys interview

Anton Kulakowskiy

Zelenska said that she is working on a national mental health program in order to provide psychological support for children. She also nodded to the role women have played in the war, adding that almost 40,000 women have volunteered to join the armed forces.

“These are the women who chose the path of the military in wartime – not in peacetime.”

“This whole war, it continues our path towards gender equality. And we’ve already made great strides in this.

“This war is as equal as Ukrainian society. I’m certain that after the war, women’s rights will be even stronger. We’ve already made strides, and we already have women generals.”

Zelensky added: “Bravery has no gender.”

Looking forward, Zelensky said Kyiv needs “security guarantees” from the global community in order to maintain momentum in the war and uphold Ukrainian independence from Russia, as well as repeating his desire for Ukraine to join NATO.

“There is only one goal (from Russia): to destroy our independence. There’s no other goal in place. That’s why we need security guarantees. … And we believe we have already demonstrated our forces’ capability to the world.”

Zelensky portrayed the conflict in contrast to the first days of the Covid-19 pandemic, “when people didn’t know what to do about it, when we needed to create a vaccine and it didn’t exist. There is a vaccine against Russian strikes, and we know it.”

Military and rescue workers take cover as a building in Ukraine's capital is rocked by explosions during an early morning drone attack on October 17.

When asked how many weapons Ukraine needed, he responded: “The answer is fairly simple. It’s enough when you can no longer hear explosions. It’s enough when the air defense systems ensure no missiles hit the ground or buildings.”

The president was echoing his wife, who said that Ukraine will need support from Western allies until the missiles “stop coming.”

“When they stop coming, when our people stop dying in their beds in the morning, I will feel, okay, maybe that’s enough,” Zelenska said. “But we can’t wait for Russians to run out of their supplies.

“It’s hard to live under this burden every day, when you don’t know what will happen tomorrow, when missiles hit the crossroads while people are driving to work, and get killed on the way,” she added.

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The post Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hopes bipartisan US support for Ukraine won’t end after midterms appeared first on Ukraine Intelligence.

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Analysis: Russia“s planned Kherson retreat a double-edged sword for Kyiv

2022-11-10T19:10:01Z

When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed his nation after Russia said it planned to withdraw its forces from the west bank of the River Dnipro in southern Ukraine he betrayed few signs of relief.

Besides suspecting that Russia may be laying a trap for his forces, his downbeat demeanour on Wednesday evening may reflect what Western military and diplomatic sources say looks like a bittersweet moment for Kyiv.

If it happens, the planned retreat could make life easier for the Russian army, in some respects, and harder for Ukraine.

“On the one hand, this is obviously a Ukrainian victory and a sign of big weakness on Russia’s part,” said Konrad Muzyka, a Polish military analyst who recently returned from Ukraine.

The withdrawal would bring Ukrainian forces closer to Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014 and which Kyiv says it aims to retake, and would appear to end Russian dreams of extending a contiguous land corridor westward to other Ukrainian coastal cities or to Moldova.

But Muzyka said falling back was also the only right military decision for Russia to take because its forces on the western side of the Dnipro were too exposed, over-stretched and under-supplied, a position he called unsustainable.

“If the Russians withdraw now, not only will they have more forces to prepare the defences of the eastern bank of the river, but they will also have some forces to actually move around and deploy to other areas (of Ukraine),” he said, saying it could take weeks for Moscow to complete its withdrawal.

Ben Barry, a senior fellow for land warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, noted what he called an element of “realism” in Russia’s strategy following the appointment last month of a new overall Russian commander in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin.

“It’s definitely a turning point, but it doesn’t mean that Russia has lost or that Ukraine has won,” said Barry, who said Moscow was still capable of taking the initiative if it could regroup for a fresh offensive or mount decisive counterattacks.

“It is far too soon to write them off.”

The choreographed and blunt way that Russia announced its plans to retreat contrasted sharply with the way it presented its two big earlier reversals – its flight from Kyiv in March and from the Kharkiv region in the north-east in September.

Back then, the defence ministry spoke of “goodwill gestures” and of tactical “regroupings” after its forces had been beaten back.

This time, the announcement was made on state TV by a depressed-looking Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister, and the plain-speaking Surovikin, and while Russia still held the territory it said it planned to cede, albeit under pressure.

Both men publicly accepted that Russia’s position in Kherson had become untenable.

President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s commander-in-chief, was conspicuous by his absence, a move that some analysts said was designed to distance him from a difficult decision that the Kremlin had decided the military should own.

Regardless of any potential military upside, retreat would represent a humiliating defeat for Russia’s political and military leadership.

The withdrawal, the latest sign that what Moscow calls its “Special Military Operation” is faltering badly, would mean handing back the city of Kherson, founded during the Russian Empire era by Empress Catherine the Great.

Kherson is the first and only regional capital Moscow’s forces have captured, at great cost, since their Feb. 24 invasion. Not long ago it was plastered with billboards proclaiming it would be with Russia forever after Putin announced he had annexed Kherson and three other regions.

Getting its troops – estimated to number some 30,000 men – back to the eastern bank of the Dnipro will not be easy for Russia either, given Ukraine has damaged or destroyed all the bridges across it, forcing Moscow to rely on night-time ferries in range of Ukrainian rockets.

For now, it’s unclear how and when Russia will conduct any fall back and what price it will try to extract in the process from Ukraine, which fears retaking a booby-trapped city and the possible blowing up of a dam on the Dnipro.

But if Russian forces do make it to the eastern bank largely intact with some of their hardware, they would be able to use the natural barrier of the river to dig in on a side, where they have already dug trenches, while keeping the city of Kherson in range of their own artillery.

The dearth of any safe working bridges able to transport military hardware would then become Ukraine’s problem.

Muzyka and Barry both said that falling back to the eastern side of the Dnipro would allow Russia to shorten the frontline it has to defend and to free up more troops.

Anthony Brenton, Britain’s former ambassador to Moscow, said Russia had prepared the ground for an eventual retreat from the Dnipro’s west bank for some time and that it clearly hoped to buy time to try to regroup over the winter.

“It’s a rational thing to do as Kherson was no longer defensible. The Russians are still gambling on getting themselves together militarily” by the end of the winter, he said.

Despite all their setbacks, Brenton said he thought the Russians still hoped to hang on to Crimea – which he said Moscow cared about most – along with the land corridor they have carved out connecting it with Russia and continued access to Ukrainian water needed for Crimea, plus as much as the Donbas part of eastern Ukraine “as they could grab”.

“I suspect that at the top they would quite like an outcome that leaves them roughly where they are, which they’re not going to get,” said Brenton, who said he believed the Russians understood that they would ultimately need to strike a deal even if such a prospect seemed remote for now.

Related Galleries:

Civilians evacuated from the Russian-controlled part of Kherson region of Ukraine arrive at a local railway station in the town of Dzhankoi, Crimea November 10, 2022. REUTERS/Alexey Pavlishak

Ukrainian soldiers from the 28th brigade say that they advance towards Kherson in South-east of Posad-Pokrovske, Kherson Oblast, Ukraine November 10, 2022 in this screen grab obtained from a video. Video obtained by Reuters/Handout via REUTERS
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Wall Street soars on sign of cooling inflation

2022-11-10T19:20:03Z

Raindrops hang on a sign for Wall Street outside the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., October 26, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Wall Street surged on Thursday, with the Nasdaq up over 6% as a sign of slowing inflation in October sparked speculation that the Federal Reserve might scale back its aggressive interest rate hikes.

The S&P 500 (.SPX) and Nasdaq (.IXIC) were on track for their biggest daily percentage gain since April 2020 as the latest consumer price data cheered investors worried that ongoing interest rate hikes could hobble the U.S. economy.

One-time Wall Street darlings tarnished in 2022’s bear market were among Thursday’s strongest performers, with Nvidia (NVDA.O) surging over 11%, Meta Platforms (META.O) jumping almost 8%, and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) up more than 6%.

The Labor Department’s data amounted to a strong sign that price pressures may be starting to subside, with the annual CPI number below 8% for the first time in eight months.

“This is a big deal,” said King Lip, chief strategist at Baker Avenue Asset Management in San Francisco. “We have been calling the peak of inflation for the last couple of months and just have been incredibly frustrating that it hasn’t shown up in the data. For the first time, it has actually shown up in the data.”

Growing recession worries have hammered Wall Street this year. The S&P 500 (.SPX) remains down about 18% year to date, and it is on course for its biggest annual decline since 2008.

The inflation data prompted traders to adjust their rate hike bets, with odds of a 50-basis point rate hike in December jumping to about 85% from 52% before the data was released, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly and Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan welcomed the most recent inflation data, but warned that the fight with rising prices was far from over.

Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) surged more than 11% after the Wall Street Journal reported that the e-commerce heavyweight was reviewing unprofitable business units to cut costs.

The CBOE volatility index (.VIX), also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, fell to a near two-month low of 23.19 points.

In afternoon trading, the S&P 500 was up 4.59% at 3,920.58 points.

The Nasdaq gained 6.17% to 10,992.04 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 3.04% at 33,503.45 points.

All 11 S&P 500 sector indexes rose led by information technology (.SPLRCT), up 6.88%, followed by a 6.85% gain in consumer discretionary (.SPLRCD).

The Philadelphia semiconductor index (.SOX) surged x%, cutting its loss in 2022 to about 33%.

Some investors also urged caution that Thursday’s rally may be overly optimistic.

“The market is – as it has been a few times this year – very eager to trade a ‘Fed pivot’ … but we think the market is getting a little ahead of itself based on one print,” said Zach Hill, head of portfolio management at Horizon Investments in Charlotte.

The PHLX Housing index (.HGX) jumped 9.6% to its highest since August after tumbling this year over concerns about higher mortgage rates denting affordability.

Rivian Automotive Inc (RIVN.O) jumped 18% after the electric-vehicle maker reported a smaller-than-expected loss, higher number of pre-orders and reaffirmed its full-year production outlook.

Advancing issues outnumbered falling ones within the S&P 500 (.AD.SPX) by a 13.3-to-one ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 17 new highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 102 new highs and 143 new lows.

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How local leaders can prepare a workforce of the future: Three takeaways from the Transforming Cities Lab

By Lavea Brachman, Malia Xie

Despite the massive volume of funding currently flowing from multiple federal bills passed to invest in place and the national economy, officials in Washington, D.C. acknowledge a relatively small portion is directly earmarked for workforce training systems. This is despite the fact that high-functioning workforce training systems are core to enhanced economic mobility and community wealth-building.

In this period of tight labor markets and changing in-demand skills, there is a strong imperative to generate as large and nimble a workforce as possible. Doing so not only would address unfilled pre-pandemic jobs, but also fill the many jobs being created with new infrastructure investments and place-based expansions in advanced manufacturing and tech-based growth sectors (e.g., semiconductor and electric vehicle industries), among others. An unusual window of opportunity now exists for local, regional, and state workforce development leaders to upgrade and transform their training programs and talent pipelines—or risk falling behind. Systems that remain stuck in the status quo will fall short of meeting new employment needs and lose out in this competitive environment.

With this in mind, Brookings Metro recently assembled four top federal officials for a cross-agency discussion focused on the recent federal bills (the American Rescue Plan Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act) and their impacts on workforce development systems across the country. Convened as part of Metro’s Transforming Cities Lab, federal officials from the U.S. Departments of Labor, Commerce, Energy, and Transportation discussed their inter-agency efforts to streamline workforce funding and enable regional workforce leaders to better prepare workers for new jobs created by historic levels of federal investment.

Three takeaways on the transformation of workforce systems and talent pipelines

Despite better alignment at the federal level on outcomes and priorities, a lack of coordination on funding delivery poses a host of practical challenges on local and state workforce entities, on top of the many normal bureaucratic burdens often synonymous with federal funds. Moreover, the new federal resources explicitly dedicated to workforce entities and workforce development are woefully insufficient. For instance, in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), only a few relatively small grants are dedicated to workforce funding. This means that, generally, investing in workforce is permissible but not explicit—so it will be up to eligible local transportation agencies and infrastructure entities (e.g., utilities) to allocate resources in the workforce area.

During the Transforming Cities Lab panel, Kevin Gallagher, senior advisor to the secretary of the Department of Commerce, acknowledged the difficulty of navigating multiple federal funding

streams, but also their powerful potential for spurring innovation and change: “Each of these programs has its own statutory authorization, own requirements, own timelines. Much of this funding has come in waves…and I don’t think that in and of itself is new. What I would say is new…is the level of consistency and prioritization” around quality job creation, enhanced workforce partnerships and plans, and diversity and equity.

As workforce system leaders seize this chance to reimagine and strengthen their systems, three takeaways from the Transforming Cities Lab panel can guide them: 1) collaborate through silo-busting; 2) plan for the long term; and 3) innovate and build on existing assets and relationships. Cutting across these takeaways is centering diversity and equity, as well as increasing access to training programs that set workers up for both employment now and further career opportunities in the long term.

Collaborate through silo-busting

To take full advantage of the new funding as well as the opportunities for innovation, workforce agencies will need to collaborate both vertically and horizontally in new ways. This requires the breaking down of traditional government and policy silos that interfere with pursuing larger, common goals.

Competitive grant funds are the main avenue for federal officials to fund workforce efforts, and the Department of Transportation will disperse about $125 billion in competitive grants (of their total $650 billion in the IIJA). The department aims to use these grants to enhance regional collaboration and undertake the “silo-busting” needed to achieve the increased collaboration and planning that these new circumstances and funding call for.

Much of this funding will pass through states. However, labor markets are regional in nature, which means that states are not the ideal geography in which to undertake workforce planning. Stronger vertical relationships—between state and local governments and nonprofits—will therefore be crucial, as local governments and nonprofits are ultimately better positioned to generate effective programs that can lead to long-term impacts.

Furthermore, typical regional workforce planning efforts do not have the resources for full wraparound services, which are critical for low-income residents to access quality jobs. States can use their own resources to support wraparound programs that may not be eligible for federal funding, but can also enhance the outcomes of these efforts by making them more appealing for competitive federal dollars overall. These wraparound programs (e.g., child care, career counseling) remove barriers for certain populations, setting them up to participate in skill-building and the talent pipeline.

Silo-busting also needs to occur horizontally, among unions, nonprofits, transportation agencies, other infrastructure employers, and the public sector. For instance, the IIJA is funding billions of dollars of infrastructure projects, primarily overseen by local and state transportation

agencies that have rarely, if ever, needed to coordinate directly with state and local workforce agencies or departments. And states can deploy some tools to encourage more horizontal integration, such as including local workforce considerations in infrastructure initiatives or funding workforce planning initiatives.

Such multi-stakeholder processes are challenging, but not impossible. In Ramsey County, Minn., for instance, the local workforce board is leveraging its Construction-Green Jobs Committee, chaired by the Saint Paul Building and Construction Trades Council and comprised of both union and non-union representatives. The committee is assessing the ecosystem from a broader perspective to reimagine a better and more sustainable economy and agree on fundamental principles to support strong and equitable programs, such as the Inclusive Construction Training Program, which utilizes new federal funding opportunities.

During the panel, Betony Jones, director of the Office of Energy Jobs at the Department of Energy, endorsed this type of coordination among stakeholders spanning workforce and infrastructure: “Twenty percent of the [competitive grant] points are set aside for plans that address quality job creation, workforce partnership, diversity, equity, inclusion, and access…Applicants are much less likely to receive DOE funding if they aren’t addressing those things.”

Plan for the long term

The COVID-19 pandemic forced local leaders to craft emergency responses on very short timelines to utilize resources from the CARES Act and their first tranche of American Rescue Plan Act funding. Now, with large infrastructure grants, the multiyear timelines between when funding is awarded and project groundbreaking allow for longer planning times.

During the Transforming Cities Lab panel, federal officials advised local leaders to take the time to understand funding opportunities and how they can be paired with local labor force demands. They encouraged analysts to use data to plan backward—accounting for the attrition in workers predating the pandemic—while also looking forward to prepare their workforce for future opportunities created by new infrastructure projects. Lenita Jacobs-Simmons, deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, observed that the department is working with the Commerce and Transportation departments and “want to see state and local workforce plans incorporate these funding opportunities, infrastructure initiatives, commerce initiatives, and sector strategies.”

Longer time horizons create more possibilities for upskilling and reskilling existing workers for new jobs and repositioning workforce training talent pipelines to serve workers and employers in an evolving job market. For example, programs could provide broad occupational training, so that electricians, pipefitters, or plumbers can convert their skills to solar installers in the energy sector and gain experience to boost their broader career pathway opportunities, including taking on management roles.

Innovate and build on existing assets and relationships

While there is time to plan, regional leaders do not have the time or resources to create everything from scratch. Leveraging existing programs and leaders in this space will be critical. Workforce boards are designed to house and lead multisector collaboratives that address workforce needs holistically, such as what the Workforce Innovation Board of Ramsey County, Minn. (in partnership with the city of Saint Paul) or EmployIndy (serving Marion County, Ind.) have been doing. Transportation authorities as well as utilities and other infrastructure employers also hold significant power through their funding flows and roles as employers, and thus can exert meaningful influence on the workforce system. For instance, if more transportation entities were to adopt policies that required a minimum percentage of their workforce to come through registered apprenticeship programs or implemented local hiring preferences, it could reap positive rewards for the system overall.

While funded projects will have lasting impacts on communities, equally important are the partnerships that will outlast the funding and changes in administrations. The Transforming Cities Lab panelists talked of how they are working to institutionalize the more collaborative way they are working across agencies. Similar to this federal-level collaboration, states and local governments can also build relationships that outlast any one project and become the basis for redesigning their approach to future complex, large-scale projects that require buy-in from a range of stakeholders.

Scaling a workforce system takes immense capacity that many smaller localities simply do not have. To reach all communities in equitable ways, states, counties, and metropolitan planning organizations need to step in to provide added capacity in the places that currently have the fewest resources to apply for funding and meet compliance expectations. Each state has infrastructure coordinators. What would it look like for counties or regions to create similar local coordinator roles?

Workforce is a shared responsibility and can be a powerful connector. A spectrum of workforce system players should be brought to the table—not just because of the resources they bring, but more importantly, because of the connections they facilitate. Coming together now ensures that the nation is prepared for this rare opportunity to improve its infrastructure, advance clean energy, and enhance the lives of the millions of workers who will do this work.

This blog previews themes reflected in a forthcoming report from Metro colleagues identifying workforce funding streams embedded in the federal legislation.

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Disquiet on the Western Front

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FBI arrests two alleged far-right Boogaloo Boys group members

The arrests come amid concerns about the potential for violence around next week’s US midterm elections

The FBI has arrested two alleged members of the far-right anti-government group the Boogaloo Boys, as authorities express increasing concern about the potential for violence around next week’s US midterm elections.

Timothy Teagan was expected to appear on Wednesday in federal court in Detroit, where charges against him would be unsealed, an FBI spokesperson said.

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