Growing with the community

Men and women from across Los Angeles are working on the most ambitious construction effort in the university’s history. (USC Photo/Gus Ruelas)

USC Village will change the way Trojans live and learn — but the $700 million project is also changing the lives of the people building it, many of whom live near the university.

Sheila Cooper had only worked three months in the past three years when the five digits of her ZIP code unexpectedly became her lucky numbers.

Those living within five miles of USC were moved to the front of the line as part of the local hiring initiative at the USC Village construction project. That meant Cooper, a pipe fitter who lives four miles away, would be getting some much-needed work.

“We went through a rough time,” Cooper said. “But I see things turning around.”

Cooper is just one of the hundreds of local residents who have gotten a job on one of the largest construction projects in the history of South Los Angeles.

“USC Village is putting many people on the path to lifelong careers,” said Thomas S. Sayles, senior vice president of University Relations. “This is a path to the middle class. And this is an impact on multiple generations.” More here.