Walk the walk: Developers and Uptown demanding jobs for minority and female workers

Uptown Gateway Terrex development Cincinnati

Making a commitment to expand economic inclusion beyond legal requirements can be challenging for some developers. Without proper framework, planning and partnerships, it can be difficult to implement and achieve inclusion goals for a project. This is why the Uptown Consortium (UCI) has made inclusion a priority before buildings come out of the ground. UCI’s approach to inclusion can best be shared through its partnership with Terrex Development and Construction and Messer Construction. 

The Uptown Gateway project led by Terrex and Messer will be a mixed-use development that offers office, retail, residential and parking space. As the flagship development for the Uptown Innovation Corridor, it was important to the developers and UCI that the economic inclusion planning was done correctly. In the project agreement, UCI and the Gateway developers committed to 25 percent women and minority hiring for contractors, suppliers, constructions workers, tenants and future employees in the development. For most developers, this is an ambitious task. 

“It’s really easy in the development world to go back to your tried and true, tested partners,” said Peter Horton, Terrex principal and owner. “They’re big shops that you know what they’re capable of. It’s uncharted to know what to expect from smaller shops.” 

However, Horton is excited to see the impact this agreement will have on the local community. UCI and their developer partners are not alone in their inclusion efforts. UCI hired WEB Ventures to help the groups identify minority and women-owned businesses and develop job training programs for the project. 

Led by three former P&G executives, WEB Ventures is leading the charge to find people ready to work on the Gateway project. WEB takes a bottom up approach to economic inclusion, working with each person or company individually to identify the opportunities for them in the project. WEB accompanies people to interviews, helps identify job training programs and vouches for the individuals or companies that pass muster.  

More than just minority and women inclusion, UCI wants to include their Uptown neighbors in the project by providing job opportunities. Patricia Milton, Avondale Community Council president, is fully behind the inclusion efforts in the Uptown Innovation Corridor. 

“A lot of intentional effort is going forth,” Milton said. “Uptown Consortium has made the commitment. They do think a little differently on how they identify inclusion.” 

Do things differently indeed, but while it is hard work, it is important that the community grows with the developments and receives economic benefits from new projects in their neighborhood. 

This is the new way to design economic inclusion in commercial development, and UCI hopes it will continue inspiring the development community with its efforts. The Uptown Gateway project is just the beginning for these efforts in the Uptown Innovation Corridor, but it is the model for how UCI’s economic inclusion efforts can work. As the City of Cincinnati Planning Commission President Daniel Driehaus said, the developers for the Uptown Gateway project are “doing things right” in economic inclusion. 

This is a recap of Bob Driehaus’ WCPO Insider article, “Way beyond happy talk: Developers and Uptown demanding jobs for minority and female workers”. To read his full article, visit: wcpo.com.