By Jim Wallace
ALBANY (WALB) - An Albany businessman hopes to fill his new business with employees who are on probation.
Willie Ross says if more businesses hire folks getting out jail it will reduce crime.
Ross said he knows men and women getting out of jail have a hard time finding a job. He thinks giving them a chance will improve the community.
Fredric Barnes said finding a steady job since getting out of jail has been tough.
"I want to work. Because that's the only way you are going to have something," said Barnes. "I done been down that road over some years, and I'm just trying to do better."
Willie Ross, in the process of opening his new business at 313 West Broad Avenue, said when Barnes came in asking for work, his story touched him.
"He was in tears," recalled Ross. "Saying he didn't want to rob nobody or he didn't want to steal nothing from nobody. So why not give him a chance."
A chance to rebuild their lives is what most people coming out from behind bars want, but a job can be the toughest part of starting that process.
Willie Ross said he understands their problem, and believes if these people get jobs they will not return to crime. So he is putting his new business and money on the line, to give some folks that chance.
"I have 9 positions open, and I'm going to try to fill as many of them as I can with people who are on probation," said Ross. "That can't be hired nowhere else."
Ross said he calls his new business "It's About Time Vegetables and More", because his father George Ross tried decades ago to open a vegetable stand downtown, but no one would rent him a store because of his race. Barnes said he is glad that Ross is providing an opportunity for him.
"The Lord finally just blessed me, when Mr. Ross came, talked to me, and said are you ready to go to work," said Barnes "And I said, yes sir."
Ross challenges other business owners to do the same.
"I think if everybody pulled together like I'm trying to, then we'll have a better Albany," said Ross.
Ross will open his new store March 1st.