Disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) earned more than $115 million on construction of the METRO Green Line, according to a new Council report.
DBEs represented nearly 20% of the construction and design activity on the project. More than 135 Minnesota-based DBEs worked on the Green Line.
“The DBE achievement on the Green Line project illustrates the current capacity of the local DBE community, and also serves as a blueprint for future DBE success on major public projects,” said Wanda Kirkpatrick, Director of the Council’s Office of Equal Opportunity (OEO).
The Council published a report in June, “Central Corridor Green Line DBE and Workforce Story: Laying Tracks, Connecting Communities” (pdf). The report highlights the accomplishments of the project both in terms of contracting with businesses owned by minorities and women, and for hiring minorities and women for construction jobs. The success was due in large part to collaborative public/private sector innovations.
Contractors successful in hiring minority, women workers
In addition to reaching monetary goals for DBE firms, the Council set workforce inclusion goals of 18% for minorities and 6% for females. The Council met or exceeded goals for workforce inclusion in almost all aspects of the project.
Most minority and women hiring goals were exceeded in the four main construction areas: Civil East (construction from downtown Saint Paul to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul city border); Civil West (construction from the Minneapolis-Saint Paul city border to where the line connected with the METRO Blue Line just west of I-35W); the Operations and Maintenance Facility (OMF) in Lowertown Saint Paul; and Systems (which included the electrical and communications systems). Actual workforce inclusion as of March 2014 was:
Civil East: 18.7% (minority), 6.2% (female)
Civil West: 20.5% (minority), 8.2% (female)
OMF: 18.7% (minority), 8.0% (female)
Systems: 12.5% (minority), 6.5% (female)
Collaboration essential to project success
The METRO Green Line construction contained several collaborative innovations that led to its success.
“Agencies must go beyond the compliance guidelines of business and workforce inclusion programs to develop long-term inclusive partnerships for large-scale public construction projects,” Kirkpatrick said.
“Engagement, open agenda, innovations, and rigorous and sustained partnerships with community residents and organizations are essential to building relationships. These relationships can be carried from project to project.”
The Council and Minnesota Department of Human Rights co-chaired a committee called the Joint Oversight Committee. This committee, which met monthly, served as a forum to ensure a transparent process in reporting requirements, monitoring, enforcement, and contractor compliance.
In addition, the Council invited community residents and organizations, construction firms and workers, training organizations, government agencies, and DBEs to a full-day retreat titled “Great Minds,” held prior to construction. At the retreat, participants discussed goals and pertinent issues for Green Line DBE and workforce achievement.
New connections for workers, contractors
LRTWorks.org grew out of the Great Minds retreat. It formalized and computerized an informal, unfunded practice by local construction workforce training organizations. LRTWorks.org is a single labor monitoring and exchange system that:
Created and maintained a website to be the central conduit for the community to get information on jobs, training, union information, and construction projects throughout Minnesota
Assisted contractors by creating a searchable database of more than 1,000 construction workers, representing more than 25 trades.
Submitted reports to public agencies and contractors highlighting trades, ethnicity, veterans and local job seekers registered on the LRTWorks.org database.
Started the Construction Hiring Connection, a new resource for contractors and government agencies doing work on public construction projects in Minnesota to assist in meeting their hiring goals.
The Council, with a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative, partnered with Ramsey County Workforce Solutions, Minnesota Department of Human Rights, the Joint Oversight Committee, and local unions to develop the tool.
See Central Corridor Green Line DBE and Workforce Story – Executive Summary (pdf).