Obama Library Construction Bids Must Include Minority, Local Enterprises

(Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)(Courtesy of the Obama Foundation)

The Obama Foundation announced Thursday that the four construction management teams being considered for the Obama Presidential Center must include subcontracts to businesses owned by minorities and women, and also recruit workers from the city’s South and West Sides.

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In its formal request for proposal to four teams under consideration for the role of construction manager, the Obama Foundation is asking candidates to commit to awarding 50 percent or more of their subcontracts to “diverse suppliers,” which include businesses owned by—in addition to minorities and women—veterans, individuals with disabilities and LGBTQ individuals, according to a press release. At least 35 percent of subcontracts must be awarded to minority-owned business enterprises, according to the release.

The RFP also asks bidding firms to “detail new and innovative approaches to maximize diverse participation among the (Obama Presidential Center) workforce, particularly from underserved communities on the South and West Sides of Chicago, including Woodlawn, South Shore and Washington Park,” states the release. Candidates must provide job recruitment and retention strategies, as well as how they plan to work with labor unions to increase the pipeline of talent among underrepresented groups, specifically among ex-offenders and minority youth.

“The Obamas chose to develop the Obama Presidential Center on the South Side to give back to the community that has given so much to them. With this (request for proposal), the Foundation has established significant and aggressive goals for diversity and inclusion,” said Obama Foundation CEO David Simas in a statement. “We are committed to creating meaningful opportunities and jobs for local businesses, community members, and underrepresented communities in the South Side and throughout Chicago, and using our platform to pioneer new approaches to engaging minority populations in the construction industry to provide not just short-term jobs, but long-term professional opportunities.”

Bidding teams must also provide their detailed spending history with diverse suppliers, including past construction projects and operational spending; a breakdown of past philanthropic spending, including the firm’s contributions to educational, environmental and civil rights causes; and the make-up of the board of each firm and diversity goals for current internal hiring practices, according to the release.

“We thank everyone who responded to our (request for qualifications) and congratulate the four teams on making it to the final stage of consideration,” said Roark Frankel, director of planning and construction for the Obama Foundation, in a statement. “We have set high standards for our finalists to meet – from contracting, to detailing who they will employ, and to the innovative hiring programs they will develop for young people. While we recognize that our goals are ambitious, we also believe that change cannot happen without setting the bar high.”

The following construction management teams have been selected to submit their proposals: Clark/Smoot Presidential Builders (Clark Construction Group, Smoot Construction Company, GMA Construction Group, LLC and Bowa Construction), Lake Alliance (Turner Construction Company, Power & Sons Construction, UJAMAA Construction Inc., Brown & Mowen Inc. and Safeway Construction Company Inc.), Power Mortenson Partners (Power Construction Company, Mortenson Construction, GMA Construction and Bowa Group) and W.E. O’Neil Construction Company.

While construction is not slated to begin until 2018, the construction manager is expected to join the project before the end of the year in order to provide pre-construction services, such as cost estimating, constructability reviews, value engineering and logistics planning during the project’s remaining design phases. 

Follow Kristen Thometz on Twitter: @kristenthometz

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