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. These efforts are informed by data, among which includesdemand-driven workforce study of construction occupations in the Greater Cleveland areacommissioned by GCP, produced by the Upjohn Institute, and generously supported by The Cleveland Foundation.


The CDI strategy is developed through the CDI Advisory Board, which meets quarterly and consists of volunteer leaders from across the construction sector and construction sector stakeholders. The current CDI Advisory Board co-chairs are Pat Rios, PE, CEM, Senior Director of Construction, Engineering & Infrastructureat the Cleveland Clinic and Eric Gordon, CEO of theCleveland Metropolitan School District. Former CDI Advisory Board co-chairs include Gareth Vaughan, CEO and President of The Albert M. Higley Co. and Constance Haqq, Chief Administrative Officer of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

The CDI strategy is carried out through our three strategy groups: Workforce, Entrepreneurship & Enterprise, and Work & Jobs.

TheWorkforce Strategy Group 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 Workforce Strategy Group co-chairsareAlicia Booker of Cuyahoga Community College’s Manufacturing Technology Center of Excellence and Goren Dillard of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland.

The Entrepreneurship & Enterprise Strategy Groupbrings 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. The Entrepreneurship & Enterprise Strategy Group co-chairs are Ariane Kirkpatrick of The AKA Team, and Mark Cunningham of Gilbane Construction

Through the Work & Jobs Strategy Group, 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.The Work & Jobs Strategy Group co-chairsare Nate Price of Cleveland Clinic and Walter Jones of The MetroHealth System.