Building opportunity: Construction diversity and workforce goals channel UChicago’s economic power
July 1, 2019
Every time Jason Bonaparte drives by UChicago Medicine’s Center for Care and Discovery, he says, “I look up at that tall, shiny masterpiece and think: There’s my work.”
Bonaparte’s electrical company, B3 Integrated Solutions (B3i), installed the fire alarm system on the hospital's third and fourth floor. It was just one of the UChicago contracts that has helped his business grow since its founding in 2013.
From a company of one, B3i has grown into a company of 17 employees and $3 million in annual revenue from a wide range of clients. “Being a small, diverse company, it was tough for us to get into large medical facilities,” Bonaparte said, “but because of the University’s excellent program for minority contractors, we’ve worked on multiple projects on campus. That has led to great relationships with larger companies, who now hire us as a subcontractor.”
To ensure that B3i and similar firms get a fair shot at the economic opportunities offered by campus construction and renovation projects, the University and UChicago Medicine aligned in 2017 on ambitious goals for increasing the participation of minorities, women and local residents. On each project, the University and UChicago Medicine aim for:
- 35 percent minority-owned contractors
- 6 percent women-owned contractors
- 40 percent construction workers who live in the city of Chicago
- 30 percent of hours from minority journey workers and apprentices
- 5 percent of hours from female journey workers and apprentices
- 40 percent of hours from minority laborers
- 5 percent of hours from female laborers
Together, the University and UChicago Medicine are the largest employer on the South Side — and are intentional about channeling that economic power for the benefit of Chicago’s residents and its minority and women business enterprise (MWBE)-certified companies. Read more about the local businesses that are growing as a result.