- Jul 24, 2018
Small and local businesses have been a mainstay of economies for centuries. Building the capacity of these businesses requires collaboration between policy makers, business and trade associations, and large businesses. Focusing on key strategies that deliver consistent results help support these collaborative investments. Here are three ways to help increase diversity and build capacity for local firms.
Partnerships and Mentoring
Developing strong relationships with local firms can help build their capacity, grow their business, and increase their contributions to local economies. But how do you begin developing these relationships? Include teaming and mentoring strategies in your business plan to identify specific growth areas. Once you write it into the plan, you are more likely to make it a priority. Now that it’s in the business plan, join and participate in business and trade associations in your local community. A lot of organizations offer programs that match large companies with small businesses seeking mentorship. Networking within these organizations can also help you identify companies in your community that are consistent performers. These businesses might be ready to take on more responsibility as a protégé firm or joint venture partner. Whether it’s a formal joint venture, teaming, association or a design-build partnership, companies should explore the best scenario to advance viable business relationships.
Gilbane’s relationship with Smoot Construction is an example of a longstanding relationship built on a legacy of mutual respect. The partnership began through mentoring opportunities in the 1960’s and has grown into a strong peer partnership. Our collaboration allows us to provide our clients and communities greater value.
Investing in Training Programs
With a shortage of skilled commercial construction labor across the industry, investing in training programs is vital to the health of the construction industry. To determine which programs to invest in, identify the areas within your upcoming projects that will have the greatest labor needs. Those trades are a good place to start. Then, collaborate with workforce development partners, local agencies and key employers in your area to develop training programs. Once you have invested time and money in these training programs, ensure retention strategies are in place to support long term success. In Milwaukee, the glass curtainwall panels on the Northwestern Mutual project were produced in Milwaukee by local residents, who were either unemployed or underemployed. A custom training program at the glazer’s union training facility was developed for the Residents Preference Program (RPP) workforce to learn this special trade. The Duwe Metals crew now has a unique skill set to help them find work now that the Tower and Commons project has finished. The real mission of any training program is to make sure individuals continues to maintain a family-sustaining job well beyond any single project.
Dedicated Outreach Efforts
Continuous communication and transparency with local, small and disadvantaged businesses is a key strategy to opening new doors. These efforts increase the visibility of available procurement and contracting opportunities. Hosting regular outreach events grows an extensive local and diverse contracting database of interested firms that can engage in contracting opportunities as they become available. You can partner with business and trade associations to conduct outreach. This outreach can take many forms from informational events to webinars to one-on-one matchmaking sessions. Our GilbaneConnects program is specifically designed to target local, small and disadvantaged businesses that are interested in pursuing work with Gilbane. GilbaneConnects forums hosted in Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, MD and Philadelphia, PA connected more than 275 different firms with local project teams. Such forums provide networking opportunities for direct communication between business partners and decision makers and increase the likelihood that these businesses receive viable opportunities. Ultimately, any outreach program you develop should focus on benefiting local businesses, communities and economies.