SF businesses use stimulus funds to hire employees


Internet Archive is unique in three ways: They digitize books for the Internet, hire formerly unemployed San Franciscans, and 100 percent of their salaries are paid through federal stimulus money, funneled through a city program that began last May.

"So much of the money remains in the hands of the federal government, that hasn't been drawn down by other states, so it's first come," Mayor Gavin Newsom said.

San Francisco's share so far is about $50 million and there is more just waiting for companies.

Wednesday, Macys.com became the first large corporation to sign on. They have openings for skilled jobs in technology and marketing. Macy's is also the first to use the city's new online service, HireSF.org.

"It's a great way, a digital way, to find the employees we need," Kent Anderson of Macys.com said.

Scott Hague is president of Small Business California. He is taking advantage of Jobs Now, but says he is experiencing a problem that others are complaining about too.

"We hired her on Jan. 20 and we're probably not going to see reimbursement for the first month until sometime around April 20," he said.

He also says some companies are finding not all of the potential hires have been properly screened. But that has not been an issue at Internet Archive.

Before Jobs Now, Internet Archive had seven employees working one shift scanning books. Now, they have more than 100 employees working two shifts in three locations in the city.

"I found this job, I'm paying my bills, I'm happy," Athena Snyder said.

In all, about 800 employers are participating. More than 2,000 residents are working. The federal stimulus money is scheduled to dry up in September, though some in Congress are fighting for a one year extension.

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