The state’s Office for Small and Historically Underutilized Businesses is taking a more proactive approach in helping minority businesses win more work on state and local government construction jobs.
Next week, the HUB office will launch its inaugural N.C. Contractors College, a 12-week program for certified HUB construction contractors on the campus of N.C. Central University in Durham.
But what makes the Contractors College different from many other workforce training programs is it will be taught by professionals from five of the state’s largest construction firms, including sponsors Turner Construction Co., Skanska USA, Lend Lease, Balfour Beatty and SRS Construction Inc.
“The big construction firms have the budget to provide training for their staff, but some of the mom-and-pop businesses we work with don’t have the resources to keep up with the latest and greatest,” says Dennis English, director of the state HUB office. “We’re trying to think outside the box to help grow the economy.”
A similar workforce training program for HUB contractors through the Carolinas AGC was phased out several years ago.
But after state leaders allocated $150 million in 2013 toward repairs and renovations to state-owned buildings, the most money the state has funded for building repairs and renovations since 2007, English says it opened up more contractor opportunities for small business owners.
Most state and local government-funded construction contracts require some level of documented minority business participation, but experts in the field say it can sometimes be difficult to find certified HUB contractors with the skill sets they need.