“Inclusion isn’t about following a prescribed process just to be compliant. It’s about leaning in, being creative and being accountable to a vision of the future,” said Beth Robinson, Uptown Consortium President and CEO. “As with any of our partnerships, the goal is to build and execute sustainable strategies around wealth-building for Uptown residents.”
From the Community Action Agency (CCA) 2019 – WEB Ventures has been a force in the economic inclusion of the construction industry in the city of Cincinnati. As part of WEB Venture’s role as connectors, CAA participates in the Pathways to Careers in Construction and Innovation group that meets monthly, bringing agencies, educators, employers, and trainers together to discuss opportunity for employment and provide insight to future employment and vocational trends. CAA has also collaborated with WEB Ventures for construction mock interviewing, industry speakers for CAA construction classes, and job placement. WEB Ventures has been an amazing source of information as well as a catalyst to great networking opportunities within our region. Our collaborative efforts with WEB will continue to grow as we help change the face of construction in our community.
WEB Ventures, an economic inclusion consultant, leads Uptown Consortium’s (UCI) efforts to leverage the economic power of Uptown and the Uptown Innovation Corridor to create lasting opportunities for local residents and minority- and women-owned businesses. UCI’s goal is to expand economic opportunities in all aspects of project development within the Corridor from pre-development through construction, tenant selection, staffing and beyond.
“When you consider every aspect of development in pre-construction, construction, and post-construction, you open up more opportunities for engagement,” said Howard Elliott, partner at WEB Ventures.
This work requires innovative strategies and coordination with other organizations to leverage resources. It’s not just about setting goals—it requires a hands-on, supportive approach.
A large part of WEB’s work includes identifying minority business enterprises (MBE) and women business enterprises (WBE) to bid on project contracts. WEB is building a pipeline of WBE and MBE companies for referral to project owners/developers that may not otherwise have an opportunity to work with each other. These companies may not typically hear about available opportunities or understand how to fully navigate the bid submission process. And some companies may not have the required capacity and qualifications at that moment. Since WEB approaches this work with a long-term view, these companies are referred to business support services so they can grow and prepare for future opportunities.
In addition to expanding contracting opportunities, WEB connects local residents with available jobs, screens applicants and, when appropriate, helps them prepare for job interviews or connects them with other organizations for additional support.
The UC Gardner Neuroscience Institute, a partnership between UC College of Medicine and UC Health, is expected to open in spring 2019. Throughout the construction process, WEB worked with UCI, the University of Cincinnati and UC Health on inclusion initiatives to secure jobs for Uptown residents and contracts for MBEs and WBEs.
As of October 2018, WEB exceeded the inclusion goals for the project. Jobsite workforce composition, reported in terms of race, gender and zip code, is above the community benefit agreement goal of 17 percent. In addition, 43.8 percent of project spend to date has been a result of working with MBEs and WBEs, trending above the aggregate project goal of 31 percent. In total, WEB Ventures has worked with 62 WBE and MBE subcontractors throughout the construction process.
Much of this success can be attributed to UCI and WEB’s partnership with UC Health. The hospital system embraced the inclusion goals and helped hold their general contractor accountable for reaching them. Exceptional partnerships like this are critical to achieving true economic inclusion across all development initiatives in Uptown.
Since WEB started working with BattleAxe, a minority-owned demolition company, in 2015, WEB has utilized different strategies and opportunities to help the MBE grow and identify opportunities for bids.
Initially, WEB connected BattleAxe with UCI to help the company win contracts such as the demolition of the Marathon gas station in the Uptown Innovation Corridor. The relationship between BattleAxe and UCI has helped the company grow and improve its reputation as it’s sought other demolition jobs.
WEB’s support isn’t restricted to helping MBE’s like BattleAxe receive new contracts. WEB noticed that the company needed assistance, particularly in the back office, to continue expanding. As a result, WEB Ventures connected BattleAxe ownership with several companies who could support back office responsibilities.
These are just two examples of WEB’s many engagement efforts around development in Uptown and the Corridor. UCI will continue advancing its partnership with WEB to ensure that Uptown residents and minority- and women-owned businesses have contracting, job and investment opportunities in Uptown development projects.