The goal of Construction Allies in Action
’s new Affiliate Historically Underrepresented Businesses (HUB) program is to help 15 underrepresented contractors grow their businesses and build generational wealth.
“It's important that we build generational wealth, because for too long, the Black and brown community has been left out of this opportunity," says Elizabeth Bovard Strong, president of Construction Allies in Action. “The services within the Affiliate HUB are all needed. They're necessary to grow most businesses.”
The HUB will initially connect the contractors to estimating services, website designers, marketing professionals and safety training services. Networking events will be one avenue for making these connections. Further down the road, legal services, documentation support, employee training, accounting services, general office support and other resources will be made available to HUB participants.
“When we support our underrepresented contractors, we're uplifting the community as a whole,” Bovard Strong says. “We're basically saying we care for those who have historically been left out of economic opportunity. And that gives hope to a whole group of people who previously did not have it. Hope leads to action and a change of perspective and belief that what was once not possible now is. This leads to sustained change in behavior, ultimately leading to community transformation.”
Members of the Affiliate HUB with annual revenues under $100,000 will have 50% of these vendor costs covered. Those with annual revenues more than $100,000 will have 25% of vendor costs covered — members could see average revenue increases of 20% after one year.
“As an affiliate member, these contractors get access at a reduced rate. The HUB picks up the difference,” Bovard Strong says. “Most of these companies are very small. They're still building their business. They may be just struggling to make ends meet. Giving them access to these resources at a reduced rate will help them to grow and scale their business.”
The Affiliate HUB will help members better understand how to bid jobs profitably, navigate through the construction industry and increase their business acumen. This will be done through networking events that focus on building relationships between underrepresented contractors and project owners – increasing their likelihood of securing and being successful on projects.
“The world is increasingly becoming more and more diverse,” Bovard Strong says. “If we don't start investing in these businesses, we will face larger economic consequences for not addressing the needs of a growing population and a diverse supplier group.”
Founded in 2020, Construction Allies in Action is a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit organization with chapters in Michigan and North Carolina. The organization also works with construction project owners to adopt diversity, equity and inclusion practices. The Affiliate HUB builds on Construction Allies in Action’s Strong Foundations Program
. This free, one-year program provides mentors who meet with participants monthly to create professional development opportunities.
“We have to do better as a city,” Bovard Strong concludes. “We have to move beyond teaching a man or a woman how to fish and teach them how to own a piece of the pond. Our city's future is really dependent on it.”
Photos courtesy of Construction Allies in Action Facebook page