- May 19, 2020
I’ve been transitioning to my new role as the director of economic inclusion and community affairs for the last six months. Since I started a lot has changed. Six months ago, I was supporting 100-person outreach events that created connections between our project teams and disadvantaged businesses. I was attending conferences and tradeshows, like the AGC Convention, to learn what companies are doing to support inclusion in our industry.
That’s all changed since the start of the pandemic. However, it hasn’t changed Gilbane’s commitment to identifying outreach and engagement strategies that go beyond meeting mandated goals. With a role that is built on creating personal connections, I’m now just forced to think differently. Ironically, “thinking differently” is something that I’ve always encouraged as a part of our inclusion strategies. One way I’m doing this is by identifying innovative virtual solutions to support small, local and disadvantaged businesses. This is more important than ever, as these businesses face even more challenges during this pandemic.
What can companies do to support small, local and disadvantaged businesses?
- Provide resources – Offering materials like this subcontractor COVID-19 reference guide, can provide much needed support to businesses that can benefit from these resources.
- Increase communications – Utilize technology to disseminate information. This can include updates to your website, increasing your social media presence, blog posts, electronic newsletters, and more. Your goal should be to spread the word about work opportunities and offer a system for two-way communications.
- Get creative – Create opportunities for virtual outreach. We’re accustomed to hosting in-person events, but due to restrictions, virtual outreach is now a best practice. In some cases, like at the Mohawk Valley Regional Medical Center project, we’ve seen increased participation from trades by using a virtual platform. If you can’t host a session, there are also opportunities to participate in virtual matchmaking sessions like the National Capital Region (NCR) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) Sub/Prime Matchmaking Event for Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDB).
What can small, local and disadvantaged businesses do?
- Engage with local organizations – There are a multitude of industry organizations that exist to support small, local and disadvantaged businesses. They are communicating with large contractors to identify opportunities for their stakeholders. Sign up for their newsletters to stay informed on the latest opportunities and resources.
- Stay connected – Now is the time to stay as visible to the virtual world as you were with the physical one. If you don’t have a website, create one where people can find you and get to know your capabilities. Get familiar with social platforms, like LinkedIn, and connection tools, like Zoom and Skype. These can help you connect with potential clients and access virtual events where firms are introducing new opportunities and passing along project details. Don’t forget to keep up with current events. Subscribe to news outlets or email notifications, such as Google Alerts, so that you can make informed decisions on how to plan for the future.
This is a community effort, and it involves support from all types of companies. I’d love to hear what you or your company are doing to support small, local and disadvantaged businesses during the pandemic. Share your stories and suggestions in the comments!