Public Building Commission of Chicago Reports Exceptional Year for Minority and Women Business Participation in 2013

Construction Projects Fueled Job Creation, Community Hiring; Nearly 12,500 Individuals Employed on Major Public Projects

Molly Sullivan, Public Building Commission, (312) 744-9277

The Public Building Commission of Chicago (PBC) today reported that minority and woman-owned business (M/WBE) participation played a key role in project development and overall professional services, and that minorities and female workers were well-represented in the workforce that delivered these 27 major public construction projects completed in 2013.

The PBC also reported strong job creation numbers, with nearly 12,500 individuals employed on projects in 2013 as a result of partnerships with diverse business chambers and community organizations, not only meeting residency workforce requirements, but exceeding community hiring goals that benefitted residents of the communities surrounding these projects.

“The numbers we are reporting today make it clear that our commitment to minority and women-owned business participation is as strong as ever and that our community engagement efforts to provide workforce opportunities to minorities and females are working,” said PBC Chairman Mayor Rahm Emanuel. 2013 year-end figures reported today to the PBC Board of Commissioners showed the high level of M/WBE participation extended across all PBC work, from general construction to professional services such as surveyors, engineering and other services.

“Our overall success in 2013 was due in large part to the strong participation of minorities and women and the partnerships we forged with community organizations that helped us achieve this level of participation,” Mayor Emanuel said. “These partnerships were critical to our work with the business community and the communities at large, and we are grateful for them and remain committed to ensuring that our project workforce is reflective of the diversity of the communities we serve.”

The PBC’s community outreach efforts, in partnership with community-based entities helped contractors to identify and hire community residents. Among the entities the PBC worked closely with was the Gardner Initiative. “The Gardner Initiative believes that the Public Building Commission’s willingness to change long-standing past policies that hurt true diversity is the main reason for these unprecedented, positive figures being reported today,” said Vincent Gilbert, Executive Director of the Gardner Initiative. “This proves that a true partnership, between the Public Building Commission and the community, can usher in a new era that can ensure that black contractors and black workers receive a more equitable share of jobs, contracts and other opportunities in the future.”

PBC also engaged general professional consulting services not attributable to individual projects for a range of work, including inspector general fees, legal counsel, insurance brokerage services, real estate management and computer services.  These services achieved a combined M/WBE participation of 52.99% percent or $12.56 million of $23.72 million paid to date. MBE participation was 46.65 % or $11.06 million and WBE participation was 6.34% percent or $1.5 million.

In all, 27 construction projects were completed in 2013 totaling more than $400.4 million in contract awards. Of the more than $362.6 million paid to date, these projects have achieved a combined M/WBE participation of 39.93% or $144.7 million. MBE participation was 32.21% or $116.7 million, and WBE participation was 7.73% or $28 million, exceeding the goals of 24% and 4% respectively.

Professional consulting services for general construction projects – architectural, engineering and other similar services — completed in 2013 represented a total value of $17.42 million. As paid to date, these services have achieved a combined M/WBE participation of 70.25% or $11.34 million. MBE participation was 57.35% or $9.26 million and WBE participation was 12.9% or $2.08 million.

These 27 projects also helped create jobs, with 12,118 individuals employed as a result of the 27 projects completed.

Minorities and women female workers were also well represented among the workforce on these projects. Male minority journeyworkers, apprentices and laborers represented more than 55% of the hours worked, while women journeyworkers, apprentices and laborers represented more than 5.68 % of the hours worked.

2013 was an exceptional year overall for the PBC. On behalf of its clients, PBC successfully delivered nine new capital projects, upgrades to 98 schools as part of the School Investment Program, and six modular units at elementary schools to facilitate full-day kindergarten. The PBC also delivered energy, technology and infrastructure projects that have helped reduce use of natural resources, helped improve access to technology and improve public safety tools.

PBC oversaw the design and construction of cross functional facilities that offer neighborhood residents access to tremendous amenities while serving as true community anchors that help raise the quality of life for families across the city. An outstanding example is Back of the Yards Campus: Chicago Public Schools College Preparatory High School and Chicago Public Library Branch Library offering the first co-located public branch library and public high school that, like all PBC projects, seeks to be a model for capital investment that can be leveraged to provide maximum benefits to the surrounding community.

Other 2013 project highlights include the award winning Jones College Preparatory High School and Ping Tom Memorial Park Fieldhouse, which joined other PBC projects that were honored with a host of awards from a wide range of industry associations and thought leaders that recognize innovation, best practices and excellence in planning, design and construction.

The PBC also highlighted the School Investment Program, an innovative effort to renovate 98 schools this summer. The work centered on eight guiding principles: Warm, dry, cool, secure, welcoming, inclusive, high-tech and purpose built and featured new air conditioning units in over 2,000 classrooms, new classrooms for STEM and media and science labs along with libraries and food service improvements.

The level of M/WBE participation on the School Investment Program project also exceeded the M/WBE participation goals, with 34% MBE participation and 5.8% WBE participation, as paid to date. On the School Investment Program project, 7,162 individuals were employed on construction projects with 15.34% of the total hours worked by community residents, more than double the goal.

Among the contractors who worked on the School Investment Program, was Jimmy Akintonde, President of Ujamaa Construction, Inc. in Chicago. “We were happy to be one of the companies selected to work on this project that had a positive impact on not only the businesses, but the community at large. ”

Melinda Kelly, Executive Director of the Chatham Business Association which also worked closely with the PBC, praised the PBC’s presence in the communities and said its focus on local outreach was vital to helping the minority business community work on these projects and hire from the community. “I want to thank the Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who truly listens to the concerns of the small and minority-owned community businesses CBA represents and supports the PBC in their efforts to create a successful model that allowed CBA to have the resources necessary to benefit the communities we serve,” Kelly said.  “The design/build model used for this summer’s school renovation projects allowed small businesses to collaborate and forge new and important new relationships between, engineers, contractors and minority and non-minority PBC contractors, which will have lasting impacts.”

Kelly also noted that the inclusion of Chicago Public Schools student interns on these projects helped to provide valuable experience working with trade unions, engineers and contractors. Two contractors have hired former interns after graduation and they are both entering into the apprenticeship programs at trade unions.  A third student is working part-time and has been offered scholarship assistance from the company for which he works. In all, 85 student students enrolled in CPS’ Careers in Technical Education program were hired as part of the School Investment program.

Jose Maldonado, President of Old Veteran Construction in Chicago’s Roseland community, said, “I wanted to give back to the community and hire from the community. One of the schools we worked on was just down the street from our construction yard, so we really felt the impact of our work.”

PBC 2013 Year End Staff Report

About PBC:
The Public Building Commission of Chicago manages construction and renovation projects for the City of Chicago and its sister agencies. Mayor Rahm Emanuel serves as the PBC’s chairman. Erin Lavin Cabonargi serves as the Executive Director of the PBC.  Additional information about the PBC and its projects can be found at  You can also follow the Public Building Commission of Chicago on Twitter: @PBCChi and on Facebook:

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