After councilman’s non-profit partnership with city scrapped, city officials now looking for other options

After councilman’s non-profit partnership with city scrapped, city officials now looking for other options
(Source: Observer File Photo)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - During a Tuesday Workforce and Business Development committee meeting, Charlotte city council members started brain storming new ideas for job training programs. The change in strategy came after council voted against moving forward with Councilman Tariq Bokhari’s non-profit Carolina Fintech Hub to help train 90 people for jobs in the financial sector.

While council members nearly unanimously agreed there was a conflict of interest, several pointed out during the Tuesday meeting that this will make it difficult to create and approve the program on a quick timeline.

The city was planning on spending $1.5 million in CARES Act funds that would go directly to trainees of CFH as a stipend during the program. Bokhari and city staff were insistent that no city or CARES Act money would go directly to CFH.

With that plan nixed, council now has until December 31 to spend the CARES Act money that was designated for the CFH program.

Councilman James “Smuggie” Mitchell advocated for an RFP process, which would allow for more vetting but also take more time to complete.

SREE Hotels President Vinay Patel told council they had a whole lot of work to do in a very small amount of time.

Mayor Pro Tem Julie Eiselt pointed out that with the CFH deal scuttled there’s no more private investor commitment to hire trained cohorts.

As part of the arrangement with CFH, private companies, mostly banks, had pledged to hire the 90 trainees as part of a $5 million commitment. Bokhari said that about $365,000 of that would go to overhead for CFH.

Councilwoman Victoria Watlington suggested that instead of trying to replicate the CFH program the city should look to invest in a different direction. Bokhari agreed, saying that would be an impossible ask for city staff to find a similar program that would guarantee the same return on investment.

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