Re­build­ing a City


In the spring of 2010, Alex Ri­ley (left) was work­ing a con­struc­tion project in Detroit and dis­cov­ered that not all la­bor­ers are suited for the same tasks. “We had a la­bor force of 150 de­mo­li­tion em­ploy­ees,” he re­calls, “but we were sup­posed to be do­ing a res­i­den­tial re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion—car­pen­try, plumb­ing, roof­ing, ma­sonry.” Af­ter a frus­trat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence try­ing to re­cruit work­ers, Ri­ley—along with co-founders Pa­trick Beal and Paul Kaser—built a staffing web­site, billing it as “LinkedIn for con­trac­tors.” Now, be­sides con­nect­ing tal­ent to lo­cal em­ploy­ers, MeritHall and its af­fil­i­ate com­pa­nies find road salt for clients, of­fer fa­cil­ity man­age­ment and vo­ca­tional train­ing ser­vices, and pro­vide man­age­ment con­sult­ing—all the while help­ing to re­vi­tal­ize the Mo­tor City. “We re­ally fo­cused on get­ting Detroi­ters to work Detroit jobs,” Ri­ley says.

Pho­to­graph by Lyndon French

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