Led by ‘The 78’ developer, building industry creates 1st-ever loan fund to help minority biz

An updated rendering shows some of the proposed development of “The 78,” running along the Chicago River in the South Loop — looking northeast. | Rendering courtesy of Related Midwest

Related Midwest, which earlier raised the diversity hiring bar with what amounts to a community benefits agreement governing “The 78” development, now lifts the bar higher. It has assembled building industry players to create a first-of-its kind loan fund guaranteeing capital for left out minority- and women-owned businesses.

The developer creating Chicago’s newest community, The 78 — which earlier raised the diversity hiring bar with what amounts to a community benefits agreement governing the 62-acre development — is now lifting the bar even higher.

Led by Related Midwest, major players in Chicago’s building industry — from developers and contractors to labor — have joined to create a first-of-its kind, cross-industry loan fund guaranteeing capital for often left out minority- and women-owned firms.

Partners including Magellan Development, Sterling Bay, Clayco and the Chicago Federation of Labor will Thursday host a first fundraiser for the fund offering lines of credit to help women- and minority-owned firms compete for work on the $7 billion South Loop development and elsewhere.

“Three years ago, I was in a program trying to get my forklift certificate, when a mentor said, ‘You can make $40 an hour, or you can be a millionaire in construction and development,’ ” said Davona Hawkins, 29, of Lynwood.

A single mother of three, her two-year-old firm, Kingdom Construction, specializing in preparing newly built homes for delivery, is among seven inaugural winners of the funding support being unveiled Thursday.

“As a young girl, I watched my father put in flooring, paint and do the plumbing around the house, and watched him turn a storefront church into a beauty salon. So when the opportunity came to enter the business, I took it,” said Hawkins, who has seven employees. “I’m very excited. My greatest need is to help make payroll and purchase materials.”

Thursday’s event, “Paving a Path to the Future: A Night Supporting Chicago Minority Small Business Owners,” currently is on track to raise a half million dollars, organizers said.

Provided photo
Davona Hawkins, owner of Kingdom Construction in south suburban Lynwood.

“The genesis of this has been the initiatives we began at The 78. As we talked more and more about our goals with developers, contractors and labor, it became very clear that this is something we need to do as an industry,” said Dan Biernacki, senior vice president of the firm spearheading The 78, coming to Clark Street and Roosevelt Road.

“As we started to think about all the various hurdles out there in terms of workforce, business and supply chain, we started talking about what we could do to really increase opportunities for small, minority-owned businesses on Chicago’s South and West sides,” he said.

“One of their biggest hurdles is access to capital. We said, OK, we need to get lenders on board for them …read more

Source:: Chicago Sun Times


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