LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- It is just mid-January and summer seems a long way away.
But plans are already underway to expand the city of Louisville's summer jobs youth program.
The city is asking for more local companies to step forward and hire teens for summer jobs.
"What we need is and what Mayor Fischer is asking companies to do is to step up and agree to hire young people between the ages of 16 and 21 for the summer," says Michael Gritton, the executive director of KentuckianaWorks, the local job training agency.
Last summer the city's summer works initiative found jobs for 400 young people, many at well known companies like Kroger, Thorntons, and Norton Healthcare.
This year the bar has been set even higher.
"The overwhelming feedback from last summer," says Gritton, "is that the companies were really impressed with the kids we gave them and ultimately what we are trying to do this year is to double the size of the program to 800."
Gritton says with the improving economy and companies more confident abut the future room for 800 kids in summer jobs is a realistic goal.
"As an example," says Gritton, "last year Thorntons hired 36 kids, this year they've committed to hire 60; and Norton Healthcare has doubled its commitment, last year they hired 13, this year they plan to hire 25."
The jobs are 30 hours a week for seven weeks. Pay in federal minimum wage at $7.25 an hour.
The need for corporate involvement came several years ago after federal funding dried up for such programs.
"This is a real way for companies to connect their mission about making money and running businesses," says Gritton, "and finding new people along with civic pride of how to bring along the next generation of workers in Louisville and give them an opportunity."
By the way as an indication that the local economy is improving Gritton cites statistics that show during the past year 19,000 new jobs have been added in the 13 county metro Louisville region.
To find out how you and your company can support the jobs program through hiring or making a donation go to the KentuckianaWorks website at www.kentuckianaworks.org.