Foun­da­tion an­nounces mi­nor­ity con­tract­ing de­mands for Obama Cen­ter

Chicago Sun-Times - - POLITICS - Fol­low Lynn Sweet on Twit­ter: @ lynnsweet Email: LYNN SWEET

The Obama Foun­da­tion on Wed­nes­day an­nounced firms in the run­ning to man­age the con­struc­tion of the Obama Pres­i­den­tial Cen­ter, along with the de­mand that the win­ner com­mit to mi­nor­ity con­tract­ing and hir­ing goals de­signed to ben­e­fit strug­gling res­i­dents on the South and West Sides of Chicago, in­clud­ing youths and ex- of­fend­ers.

And in set­ting a high bar — de­mand­ing proof of a cer­tain sort of cor­po­rate phi­los­o­phy — the Foun­da­tion is also ask­ing the four teams of firms in the com­pe­ti­tion to pro­vide ev­i­dence of “past phil­an­thropic spend­ing, in­clud­ing those firms’ con­tri­bu­tions to ed­u­ca­tional, en­vi­ron­men­tal and civil rights causes.”

The firms also will have to an­swer for their own hir­ing prac­tices, from whether there is di­ver­sity on their boards, among their ven­dors and in their own hires.

The re­lease of the Foun­da­tions’ mi­nor­ity con­tract­ing goals comes the day af­ter the cre­ation of a new non­profit eco­nomic devel­op­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion de­signed to kick- start the re­vival in the com­mu­ni­ties near the site of the fu­ture Obama Cen­ter com­plex in Jack­son Park.

While large- scale eco­nomic deals lever­aged off the Obama Cen­ter is an enor­mous goal — and in­volves myr­iad play­ers and could take years — for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and for­mer first lady Michelle can call the shots when it comes to hir­ing and con­tract­ing to con­struct their Cen­ter, with ground­break­ing, once tar­geted for the spring, now pushed back to “late” next year.

A pre­lim­i­nary bid­ding doc­u­ment for the con­struc­tion manager’s con­tract said the cost of the Obama Cen­ter com­plex was be­tween $ 300 mil­lion and $ 350 mil­lion.

The hir­ing and con­tract­ing goals are:

Fifty per­cent of the sub­con­tracts set aside for mi­nor­ity and women busi­ness en­ter­prises and busi­nesses “owned by veter­ans, in­di­vid­u­als with dis­abil­i­ties, and LGBTQ in­di­vid­u­als,” the foun­da­tion said.

Of that, the Foun­da­tion is re­quir­ing that no less than 35 per­cent of the Cen­ter’s sub­con­tracts be awarded to mi­nor­ity busi­ness en­ter­prises.

The firms bid­ding to be the con­struc­tion manager must of­fer, ac­cord­ing to the bid doc­u­ment, “new and in­no­va­tive ap­proaches” to hire from the South and West Sides and specif­i­cally Wood­lawn, South Shore and Wash­ing­ton Park.

“Com­pet­ing firms will be asked to de­tail how they plan to work with la­bor unions to in­crease the pipe­line of tal­ent among un­der­rep­re­sented groups. Com­pet­ing firms are also be­ing asked to think specif­i­cally about en­gage­ment among un­der- em­ployed pop­u­la­tions in­clud­ing ex- of­fend­ers and mi­nor­ity youth,” the foun­da­tion said.

The con­struc­tion teams in the run­ning — in one case the same mi­nor­ity firm is part of two bids — are:

Clark Con­struc­tion Group, Smoot Con­struc­tion, Griggs Mitchell Alma Con­struc­tion Group LLC, Bowa Con­struc­tion

Turner Con­struc­tion Com­pany, Pow­ers & Sons Con­struc­tion Com­pany, Uja­maa Con­struc­tion Inc., Brown & Momen Inc., Safe­way Con­struc­tion Com­pany Inc.

Power Con­struc­tion Com­pany, Morten­son Con­struc­tion, Griggs Mitchell Alma Con­struc­tion Group LLC.

W. E. O’Neil Con­struc­tion Com­pany made the cut promis­ing to find mi­nor­ity- owned firms to part­ner with for the fi­nal bid.

A ren­der­ing of the pro­posed Obama Pres­i­den­tial Cen­ter. SCOTT OL­SON; JACQUELYN MARTIN ( IN­SET, OBAMAS)

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