MBL, Inc. leads summer job placement program as Gainesville chef hires youth

Chef Carl Watts
Chef Carl Watts
Published: Mar. 23, 2022 at 6:42 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Teenagers searching for summer work have a resource in Alachua county.

“A child learning the ethics of working and getting a job and being successful,” said CEO of Minority Business Listings, Incorporated, Wayne Fields.

The Children’s Trust of Alachua County is funding the new ‘TeensWork’ Alachua Summer Youth Employment program. MBL, Inc. is in charge of job matching and job training teens ages 14 to 18.

“To find jobs for them, train them in employability skill issues and how to build a resume, how to do an interview, how to put together an application, or fill one out and we are recruiting those kids from Gainesville, Alachua, Hawthorne as well as Waldo,” said Fields.


Teenagers would work up to 25 hours a week in the program and must live within Alachua County to qualify. Fields said his team is qualified to handle the task because of their impact on the community.

“Make the difference by having additional income in their family because we don’t know what a youth, or what a child is going through,” mentioned Fields.

“So to have a parent come up and say I would like to have my child work but to then also have that child say, I want a job. It’s that type of cohesiveness we’re looking for.”

The program is accepting 105 teenagers this year, paying them $10 an hour.

“Our Smoke Shack is going to be geared towards youth employment,” said Gainesville chef and restauranteur, Carl Watts. ”And then I thought about me being from East Gainesville and I said, it’s something we have to do.”

He opened Underground Kitchen to serve soul food but he wants to feed souls by hiring teens to run the new Smoke Shack and Chef Empowerment summer camp.

RELATED STORY: Hometown Heroes: Chef Empowerment’s Underground Kitchen

“Put them in positions of management in training,” added Watts. “We’re going to do a food prep program for the kids here and we’re gonna put one of the kids, her name is Nya, in that spot as a manager to kind of facilitate her leadership and management skills.”

Watts grew up in East Gainesville and called these two new initiatives, “his baby.” The plan is to start a Food Science Lab in the Duval Early Learning center and let some teenagers help manage the camp.

“The fact that we can take one person and say that we have one success story. One person that’s not incarcerated, in jail, shot, you know, that makes it worth it.”

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