- Three leaders of Cleveland’s Black community penned an open letter last week calling for the city to rescind development aid and tax incentives for the construction of Sherwin-Williams’ new headquarters and a research center in the city and surrounding area, according to Cleveland.com.
- The letter, which cites a lack of minority inclusion in the project, was dated the same day the building materials giant announced the key architectural and construction firms for the $600 million project, none of which are minority-owned.
- The letter took issue with the city’s commitment to provide $100 million in tax incentives for the project, saying if Black architects and contractors “are going to be excluded from the Sherwin-Williams project then don’t build it here.”
The company, which was founded in Cleveland, was awarded a broad package of development incentives from the state and its development arm, JobsOhio; the cities of Cleveland and Brecksville; and Cuyahoga County, according to Cleveland.com. In addition, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority agreed to finance the project. Cleveland’s package alone amounted to about $100 million in grants and tax incentives.
The letter from Norm Edwards, president of the Black Contractors Group, and two local clergy leaders, addresses Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and other county and city executives, saying the city should not provide tax incentives to projects without inclusive practices from their inception.
The letter was in response to Sherwin-Williams’ announcement detailing the following key partners on the project:
- Pickard Chilton Architects: design architect.
- HGA Architects and Engineers: base building architect. Design, base building and interior architect for the R&D Center.
- Vocon Partners: interior architect.
- Welty Gilbane, a joint venture: construction manager.
- Mark G. Anderson Consultants: project manager, project controls and owner's representative.
- CBRE: real estate and economic development advisor.
- inSITE Advisory Group: economic development advisor.
In its announcement, Sherwin-Williams said it has a commitment to hiring women and people of color for the Ohio projects and noted it was named by Forbes magazine as one of the top employers for diversity, new graduates and women.
“The company is extending this commitment to the construction of these facilities,” it said in the announcement. “Sherwin-Williams will work proactively with the cities, community leaders and trade partners to positively impact the local economy by providing workforce opportunities for the community, including awarding contracts to minority-owned and female-owned businesses, as well as small businesses.”
Sherwin-Williams announced plans to build the new headquarters in downtown Cleveland and the research and development center in nearby Brecksville in February. Last week, the company confirmed that — despite the coronavirus making traditional office work less attractive — it will go ahead with plans on the 1 million-square-foot headquarters and 500,000 square foot R&D center, which the company said will serve as the “corporate anchor” for a new mixed-use development project