In March of 2011, black contractors, in partnership with Congressman Louis Stokes, initiated a discussion with Mayor Frank Jackson to create strategies to ensure that economic opportunities exist for minority contractors as construction demand expands in Northeast Ohio, leading to the development of the Construction Diversity Inclusion (CDI) initiative. The framework of this initiative relies on a best-practice tool referred to as Community Benefit Agreements, a national and unique model for economic development.

The CDI initiative convenes a diverse group of stakeholders that includes minority/majority contractors, developers, assistance groups, bonding agents, owners and financial institutions as needed to increase the use of Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) and Female Business Enterprises (FBEs) firms on major projects.

This public-private collaboration presents economic development priorities in a Memorandum of Understanding that uses Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) as a tool to underscore specific actions that Project Owners can use to increase the participation and wealth-building opportunities for local workers and local female- and minority-owned businesses.

Connect. Convene. Collect. Communicate

The efforts of the Construction Diversity & Inclusion committees have been structured to connect, convene, collect and communicate information and resources to support and enhance the economic success of the construction industry in Northeast Ohio region.

Through the work of our Community Engagement Subcommittee, we work with stakeholder organizations, Community Development Corporations (CDCs), and members of the community to enhance our outreach to the Greater Cleveland/Northeast Ohio region to educate and inform the community on the process of developing CBAs.

The Pre-Apprenticeship & Training Subcommittee convenes to connect prospective workers with training programs and to expand the pipeline of qualified workers. Representatives from community referral organizations, organized labor, educational and training entities are driving this effort.

The Subcontracting Subcommittee brings together minority/majority contractors, developers, assistance groups, bonding agents, owners and financial institutions in an effort to increase the use of MBE/FBE firms on major projects as well as provide resources on certification agencies, contacts, and requirements for vendor registration.

Through the Owners Outreach & Data Reporting Subcommittee, we convene owners/developers to use a variety of tools – including CBAs – to expand the worker and business participation of women and minorities on major construction projects. Further, the data and reporting collection process is used to inventory major building project specific goals and best practices.