Q: Can you tell us a bit about what the new infrastructure plan could potentially mean to MBE/MWE construction-related firms in the Kansas City region?
A: The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) will provide significant funds to address the nation’s transportation systems, with the majority flowing directly to state and local governments. Missouri and Kansas combined could receive a total of $12 billion in new funding, with $10 billion specifically targeting road and bridge projects.
MBE and WBE firms will likely benefit from certain provisions such as 10% of funds provided for surface transportation and transit programs will be expended through small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. It will be important for small firms to understand qualification requirements to be eligible for contact awards, especially at the state and local level. Additionally, the legislation provides states with new authorities to use funds from existing programs, such as the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, to support workforce development activities, including pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs and on-the-job training.
Q: What would those owners need to start doing–now—to position themselves for consideration when funding is made available for projects?
A: Businesses interested in participating in projects that will be made possible by the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure bill can best prepare themselves for these contracting opportunities by doing the following:
Q: Your Strategic Partnership Program sounds like it has advanced the interests of such firms; can you tell us about a few success stories involving local companies?
A: We are proud to offer the Strategic Partnership Program (SPP) in eight markets across the country, including right here in Kansas City. Since the program’s inception, we’ve witnessed the tremendous growth of dozens of SPP alumni. Many firms have significantly increased their capacity and ability to take on larger, more complex scopes of work.
One shining example is Hartline Construction. The company’s CEO, Jennifer Hart, graduated in our first SPP class in Kansas City. Hartline has quadrupled in size and successfully secured two scopes of work on the KCI New Terminal project. Their work is visible across the New Terminal jobsite and we are proud to have helped pave the way for their business growth.
Another great graduate example from Kansas City is Axiom Construction, led by president Daniel Felder. Founded in 2016, Daniel’s concrete company has experienced significant growth since completing the SPP in 2019. Axiom is performing multiple scopes of work, and has contracts in aggregate of $14 million dollars, on the KCI New Terminal project.
Q: And how will the ENCORE rollout enhance prospects for those and other companies in that space?
A: Clark’s SPP ENCORE programming was developed in direct response to our SPP alumni’s growing appetite for new professional development opportunities.
In 2022, our SPP ENCORE lineup will include a mix of virtual and in-person events, including online workshops, regional networking breakfasts, panels and presentations, and pipeline previews where we’ll talk about upcoming subcontracting opportunities on Clark projects.
Through this program, Clark is committed to providing both continued education and networking opportunities to help small, minority, women, and veteran-owned firms gain access to valuable market insights and industry resources, deepen their business intelligence, strengthen their professional networks, and expand their awareness of new opportunities to work on Clark projects.
Q: While we’re on the phone, can you quickly update us on KCI progress?
A: The project is going very well. We are on budget, and on schedule for the New Terminal to open in March of 2023, less than 15 months from now. The facility is completely dry inside and we have the heating, cooling, power and lighting systems functioning. The carpet, terrazzo floor, wood ceilings, and other finishes are progressing well and we’re preparing for final cleaning and punchlist in the areas that are farthest along. The concessionaire is also on board and we’re coordinating for their work to begin next summer. We made good progress on the airside paving this past year and we’re excited to have the glass passenger boarding bridges delivered in a few months. In six to nine months, many parts of the New Terminal will look complete. Our focus is already shifting to the final testing, training, turnover and operational readiness for opening day.
Q: And in regard to KCI, its ties to the subject of MBE/WBE participation. What’s been needed to change the dynamic to meet those ambitious participation rates set for the project, and what effect on the broader construction community has come from that overall experience?
A: From day one, our KCI project team has focused not only on reaching our subcontracting goals, but on ensuring that our small business partners are well positioned for success on the project.
We established the Terminal Workforce Enhancement Programs, which includes more than a half dozen programs and support services, to help small minority- and women-owned businesses gain access to the training, critical start-up capital, cash flow, bonding support, and construction equipment needed to secure contracts – and realize success – on a project of this magnitude. Our Pay Without Delay, Low Interest Loan, Bonding, and Supplier Support programs have been instrumental in supporting these firms by providing the necessary ﬁnancial assistance to eliminate known barriers to success.
These programs have not only enabled local MBE and WBE firms to take on work at the airport — but they have also helped them more confidently grow their business.