What Does Inclusion Look Like?

 
05/17/2021


Photo by Big Mouth Productions - www.bigmouthproductionssf.com



Photo by Big Mouth Productions - www.bigmouthproductionssf.com



Photo by Big Mouth Productions - www.bigmouthproductionssf.com


Bianca Johnson, Community & Citizenship Director, Turner Construction Company
 
The structural inequalities in public and private institutions have exacerbated the American crisis in healthcare, income distribution, food insecurity and homelessness—just to name a few.
 
Oakland citizens are becoming more actively engaged in construction projects being proposed in their community, which impact their quality of life and contribute to the public good.
 
One such construction project is the new Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) Headquarters to be located in downtown Oakland. Taking steps toward greater operational efficiency, BART, is in the process of a $58 million renovation of an existing building that will become their new home in the summer of 2021.
 
“This is a historic opportunity for small businesses to be part of a construction project that reaffirms our organization’s connection with the East Bay,” stated Maceo Wiggins, Director of the BART Office of Civil Rights.  “We’ve been headquartered in Oakland for many years and with the acquisition of this new building we’re going to remain headquartered in Oakland and we’re making sure small businesses are a key part of this project,”
 
BART and the HQ project participants solicited proposals from three different General Contractors. Turner Construction Company, a global building contractor with a 50-year presence in the Bay Area, was awarded a contract to design & build the project in less than a year. They met all technical requirements and proposed a diverse project team, but this was not enough – specifically with respect to local Black/African American businesses and contractors.
 
After engaging a number of business associations and trade groups representing Black/African American business owners and BART leadership, Turner Construction Company committed to achieving a 10% goal for Black/African American owned businesses. Merrill Bowers, Vice President and General Manager of Turner Construction stated, “We are dedicated to our community and all communities that BART serves. Proposition 209 certainly does not limit the outreach and engagement efforts of Turner, nor does the lack of state or city mandated goals for the project limit us from establishing and meeting our own”. He further stated that because the project delivery method is Design-Build, Turner has more flexibility to open up opportunities for smaller contractors.
 
This inclusion represents an enormous opportunity for the Oakland based, black-owned construction firms and the black workers they employ. Ensuring a diverse workforce behind this publicly funded project represents a win-win for all the parties involved and demonstrates that inclusion, diversity and equity are elements that enhance the quality of life in our communities.
 
Red Dipper Electric, aDBE, MBE, LBE, SLEB, LIABE and SBE, was one of the local black-owned contractors selected for the project. Doug Parrish, CEO of Red Dipper Electric, recognized the importance of these inclusion efforts and how it will positively impact more than just his firm. “We are elated to be included on a project that will have an enormous impact in Oakland by bringing jobs and contracts,” said Parrish, “BART ensured community engagement and Turner Construction worked collaboratively with the African American Chamber's to increase minority participation, which will certainly improve the health and welfare of this community.”
 
Another black-owned contractor on the project is Metro Contract Group, a DBE, MBE and SBE full-service contract furniture dealership based in Oakland. Dwight Jackson, President and CEO of Metro Contract Group, reflects on his experience. “It’s our pleasure to work with BART and Turner Construction on this important and exciting project for our local region. We look forward to working with Turner and contributing to the future of our local transit district. We also appreciate Turner Construction and BART’s outreach and inclusion to small, diverse vendors – initiatives that Metro supports.”
 
Furthermore, three of these black-owned firms on the BART HQ project have also enrolled and successfully graduated from the Spring 2021 Turner School of Construction Management Program (TSCM). The TSCM program is a free, 7-week program, designed to prepare diverse, women-owned, veteran/disabled, LGBTQ, and small business contractors for future business opportunities. This program, delivered by Turner Construction management staff, is designed to help firms improve their economic viability by enhancing managerial, technical and administrative skills while promoting dialogue, access & connection. TSCM, generously sponsored by Union Bank, will be offered again in the Fall of 2021.
 
To learn more about Turner’s UBE initiatives or to prequalify, please contact Bianca Johnson, Community & Citizenship Director at bfjohnson@tcco.com.
 


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