In response to the pressing need to address disparities in the construction industry, the Delaware Office of Management & Budget (OMB) and EDiS Company have joined forces to launch a groundbreaking pilot program aimed at increasing diversity and inclusion in state construction projects.
A recent study by the State of Delaware highlighted a significant lack of diversity in government spending on construction projects. In a state where Blacks and Hispanics make up one-third of the overall population, only 2% of contracts are awarded to Hispanic or Black-owned firms. The state’s Office of Management & Budget and EDiS are working to close that gap through a pilot program centered around the new Hodgson Vocational-Technical High School project, with a goal of 7% DBE participation for the project.
In a video created for release about the pilot program, the OMB, under the leadership of Cerron Cade, the Office of Supplier Diversity under the leadership of Shavonne White, emphasized the need for increased opportunities for diverse individuals and companies in the construction sector. The pilot program, which focuses on the Hodgson Vocational-Technical High School project, represents a significant step towards a more equitable distribution of taxpayer dollars.
Cerron Cade, Director of the Delaware Office of Management & Budget, expressed the need for change, stating, “We had heard a lot from the community and from legislators that there was a disparity that they felt in people’s ability and companies’ ability to participate in construction projects. There was indeed a disparity, and the things that people anecdotally thought were actually true.”
Siobhan White, Director of the Delaware Office of Supplier Diversity, emphasized the program’s goal. “My goal with this DBE pilot program is to create opportunities for everyone. State issues over $1.4 billion in capital infrastructure dollars every year, and we have a very diverse population in this state. It’s very important that those taxpayer dollars go to the communities that represent and look like the entire state of Delaware.”
EDiS Company, a Delaware-founded and headquartered construction management firm, has embraced the opportunity to contribute to this transformative initiative. CEO of EDiS Brian DiSabatino stated, “The pilot project itself addresses Hodgson and is going to provide a lot of great opportunity on this particular project, but if we do this right, it’s going to open up doors for other projects and open up doors for contractors to have conversations in a marketplace that maybe traditionally they felt disenfranchised.”
The pilot project will not only benefit the construction industry but also has the potential to shape the future workforce. With a focus on the Hodgson Vocational-Technical High School, the program aims to inspire students to explore career opportunities in the construction industry, including ownership and operation of businesses. EDiS Vice President and Operations Manager for the Hodgson Vo-Tech project Christian McCone says “Our Vo-Tech school system is responsible for providing to the state the future of
our workforce. Hodgson is a majority minority school, and our hope is that those kids will see an opportunity when we start building out this program that not only will lead them to being workers in this industry but will also lead them to be owners and operators.”
The Delaware Office of Supplier Diversity distinguishes between certified and self-identified disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) to ensure that control remains in the hands of diverse individuals and entities. This vetting process is crucial to promoting the growth of certified DBEs and fostering meaningful partnerships.
The final Bid Package with nearly 40 contracts for the new Hodgson Vo-Tech School, designed by ABHA and BSA+A, has been released, and is available for bid to interested contractors. Information is available on the Delaware Bids & Contracts page and EDiS’ website. Contracts available include roofing, equipment, fire protection, flooring, drywall, electrical, lighting, and more.
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