- Bethesda, Maryland-based Clark Construction has pledged to award $2.5 billion in subcontracts over the next decade to the graduates of its Strategic Partnership Program (SPP).
- The builder announced the pledge during the launch of SPP ENCORE, its new education program for the more than 1,200 small or minority-owned businesses that have gone through SPP since it was founded in 2006.
- The $2.5 billion pledge represents more than double the awards Clark has granted to SPP graduate firms to date.
The SPP is an executive MBA-style development program for small and minority-, women- and veteran-owned construction firms, primarily in eight markets across the country:
- Kansas City.
- Los Angeles.
- San Francisco.
- Washington, D.C.
After interviewing SPP graduates, Clark discovered the entrepreneurs had a desire for increased learning and more economic resources and opportunities. As a result, Clark developed SPP ENCORE to help connect graduates to resources that could help them achieve the next level of economic success.
Another element of the ENCORE program includes a newly formed partnership with Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur Access Network, which Clark says will support education and monitoring for Clark alumni.
Clark, along with several other major construction firms, also co-founded the inaugural Construction Inclusion Week, which began Oct. 18.
The week focused on addressing issues within the industry; including one of the hardest hurdles that underrepresented business enterprises face: cash flow. Smaller, diverse firms have been included on big projects, but often only to reach diversity goals, and they're not included in planning, which creates a vicious cycle for those at the bottom.
Additionally, the initiative focused on the uphill battle the industry faces of attracting more women and minorities to the workforce. Construction is dominated often by workers who are White and male. More women and minorities owning businesses in the industry will open the door for others, enabling them to picture themselves in building careers.
Programs like Clarks' are helping to move the needle on the issue.
"Clark's Strategic Partnership Program has been integral to the growth of my business," Corey Smith, president of New Horizon Steel and a graduate of Clark's inaugural SPP Chicago class, said during the conference launching SPP ENCORE. "The program opened my eyes to what I needed to do to run a successful company and gave me greater confidence that I could become one of the elite steel erectors in the region."