GRAND RAPIDS — A new nonprofit organization is working to create a membership-based program to provide resources for minority-owned, women-owned and micro-local construction contractors.
At a meeting slated for Tuesday, the city of Grand Rapids’ Economic Development Corporation Committee will consider $10,000 in funding for Construction Allies in Action and its planned Affiliate HUB program. Construction Allies in Action was formed in 2020 with the goal of creating “generational change by helping underrepresented contractors,” Elizabeth Bovard Strong, a board member for the organization, told MiBiz.
The nonprofit launched an inaugural seven-month, free construction training program in 2021 called Strong Foundations Program. The second installment of the program is currently underway with 18 construction companies from West Michigan, Bovard Strong said.
“We see the Strong Foundations Program as a great way to start these companies out, but if they are small and trying to grow, they still need assistance,” Bovard Strong said. “The Affiliate HUB is going to be a membership for contractors to join at a minimal cost based on their annual earnings where they can get access to legal help and other other resources. It would help them get reduced help to get them what they need to build their business.”
Through the city’s inclusion plan, Grand Rapids is encouraging developers to contract with minority-owned, women-owned and micro-local construction companies for projects that are seeking investment from tax incentives, as MiBiz previously reported.
The goal of Construction Allies is to make sure there is a larger pool of minority and underrepresented contractors to choose from and that those employers have the capacity to take on larger projects, Bovard Strong said. If the city provides the Affiliate HUB initiative with funding, Construction Allies in Action plans to, in turn, provide the city with metrics and progress of the program.
“This is a huge diversity, equity and inclusion effort that is action-oriented,” Bovard Strong said. “In West Michigan especially I do see pushes to attract underrepresented contractor work on jobs but the biggest reason why it doesn’t happen often is because many of those contractors don’t have the capacity to do bigger jobs and we need to do all we can to build those companies.”
Bovard Strong also said that the goal is to secure enough funding to launch the Affiliate HUB initiative by the end of summer this year.
The program is designed to offer contractors services like networking events that can lead to business opportunities, mentors to help grow their businesses, legal assistance, office space and other resources to assist with scaling their companies, Bovard Strong said.
The nonprofit plans to charge an annual fee of either $75 or $125 per year for the Affiliate HUB program, based on the company’s annual earnings.
“The problem is contractors only work with people they know,” Bovard Strong said. “It’s hard to push them outside of their circle, so we want to do that but we also want to make sure the contractor can handle it and they’re ready.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated the Affiliate HUB program fee. It is $75 or $125 per year based on the member’s annual earnings.
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