Builders of NGA seek minority-, women-owned businesses

Builders of NGA seek minority-, women-owned businesses

DOWNTOWN – McCarthy Building Companies and HITT Contracting, a joint venture that will build the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s new headquarters in north St. Louis, hosted a major federal contracting outreach event for minority and small business owners interested in working on the project. 

The event was held Tuesday, Oct. 29, at Covo St. Louis, 401 Pine St.

Information provided included guidelines for federal certifications and guidance for the McCarthy HITT bid process for minority-, women- and veteran-owned small business. Other categories included were small disadvantaged business; service-disabled small business; and HubZones, historically under utilized business zones for small business.

A variety of resource agencies were on hand for assistance.

“The goal for today is really a two-fold scenario,” said Jeffrey Boyer, engineer and prime contracts project manager for McCarthy HITT. “Today will give us an idea of who is interested and what kind of work folks do. Right now, it is really geared toward the construction piece. There will be ancillary contracts for food service, landscaping, cleaning and things like that down the road.

“The biggest chunk of today is for us to understand the minority, women and small businesses that are out there that want to be part of the project. This includes the scope of the work they do, how that might fit in the overall project and how do we bring them together to be a part of this project,” Boyer continued. 

The scopes of work covered included site work, hauling, trucking, concrete, mechanical, electrical and general conditions. 

Heather Cirre, Contracts and Small Business Outreach Manager for the McCarthy Building Companies, served as the facilitator for the event. 

“Today’s outreach is to go through basic information about working with the federal government, because it is different,” she said, “but it also requires the same expertise and participation from women and minority businesses as well as small businesses.”

One business owner at the event, Victor Fields, is the minority small business owner of Fields Electrical Supply Company. He started his business in 2018 and opened the doors to his own building in May.

“I am a wholesale distributor of electrical supplies,” Field explained. “I mainly sell to contractors, mostly commercial and residential. Landing a contract with McCarthy would be my first major project. This thing is a monstrosity, and it will be great for St. Louis and for me and my four kids.

“Right now, it’s just me,” Fields said. “My wife is in the office, and my dad comes into town every now and then to get extra stuff done in the warehouse.”

Fields business is situated in a deficient area very near the site of the new NGA facility.

“A contract would help me grow my business,” he noted. “I could hire more folks, and that would help me out to qualify as a HubZone and help me gain access to federal procurement opportunities.”

Deanna Hemphill and Kristen Collins, co-owners of My-T-Sharp Janitorial Services in north St. Louis County, have been in business since 1993.

“I have 17 part-time employees and 3 full-time employees,” Hemphill said. “Getting a contract would mean growth for our business. I started the business after looking around and seeing how hard my husband was working making $3.75 an hour at a hotel busting his butt for nothing. For that, we can start our own company.” 

In addition to the janitorial service, Hemphill and Collins also own a landscaping business called Loudbank, a gardening and grow company.

“My goal is to hire more minorities, but we also want people who have been incarcerated and paid their debt to society to get back out there and make an honest living by having the opportunity to work,” Hemphill explained. “This project gives opportunity to the whole state. Even if we partner with someone, there is room enough for every one to eat,” she concluded.

The Department of Labor affirmative action goals for the project are 6.9 percent female participation by trade and 14.7 percent minority participation by trade, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

McCarthy HITT must meet Corps and NGA guidelines for minority and female participation and meet Department of Labor goals.

“We are committed to helping small businesses grow for the future,” Boyer said. 

Hillary Scott Ogunrinde, director of business development for Allset LLC, said, “Our goal is to provide back office, administrative and business development support for small, medium, minority and women owned businesses.  We make sure they have the internal infra-structure to sustain the current work they have and build the internal capacity to pursue larger projects.”

The new NGA will be built on a 97-acre site near Jefferson and Cass avenues in north St. Louis, replacing the current facility situated south of downtown. The Corps’ Kansas City district will oversee the $1.7 billion design and construction.

About 5,000 construction jobs are expected to be involved, including up to 1,100 workers per day in 2022 during peak construction. Construction is expected to be complete in 2023, and the facility will open in 2025. Ground-breaking is scheduled for November.

More information is available at www.nextngawest.com

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