Chevron Richmond announced the start of a  $15.5 million Community Revitalization Initiative, a five-year plan to stimulate the city’s economy by creating jobs, encouraging small business development and expanding job training opportunities.

Speaking at held a press conference Tuesday morning at Richmond’s Community Greenspace Garden, Chevron officials said that  $10 million will be spent on economic development, while the remaining $5.5 million will be invested in (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) STEM labs, teacher professional development and programs in local schools.

“We want people to think about coming to school here…and when they go to school, those children go on to college and get good jobs like (at) our refinery,” said Corey Judd, General Manager of Chevron Richmond.

“…We don’t always see eye to eye, but I think this is a place where we can align and do some good,” he said.

The 2012 fire at Chevron Richmond refinery that sent nearly 15,000 people to the hospital with respiratory complaints placed the company in a bad light.  In addition, tax battles between the company and the City of Richmond resulted in negative publicity.

However, this new initiative is intended to reinforce Chevron’s ongoing commitment to the City of Richmond.

Kish Rajan, who serves as director of Governor Jerry Brown’s Office of Business and Economic Development, applauded Chevron for leading the way in the state by investing in Richmond.

Over the years, Dr. Henry Clark of the West County Toxics Coalition has criticized Chevron. However, Clark attended Tuesday’s press conference in support of the company’s new investment in the community.

“We don’t always agree – that’s no problem, but I agree with this initiative here,” Clark said.

Andrea Bailey, Community Engagement Manager at Chevron Richmond, noted that the initiative has been in development for over two years and that it is the company’s most significant project in the city.

The goal, she said, is not only to strengthen community development projects but to also to support a high level of transparency between Richmond and Chevron.

“We’re just getting started. Today’s the first day of a wonderful beginning,” Bailey said.