Innovation Quarter partners with ACCESS to ensure MBE firm participation in upcoming infrastructure work

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Innovation Quarter and ACCESS Center for Equity + Success have partnered together to ensure that MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) contractors have a fair shot at bidding for upcoming work as part of the horizontal infrastructure work that will soon commence as part of iQ’s second phase of development. This new phase of development will take place on 28 acres of land running from Third Street to Salem Parkway.

Minority owned construction companies have historically been underutilized, making it more difficult to qualify, apply for and win potential bids. For example, a study published by the State of North Carolina in 2021 found that, while MWBE-qualified firms make up roughly 33.5 percent of construction companies qualified to bid on state projects, MWBE firms only received 7.2 percent of total contract dollars awarded by the state between 2014 and 2018.

The new agreement, which is facilitated through Innovation Quarter’s infrastructure development partner Wexford Science & Technology through general contractor The Whiting – Turner Contracting Company, establishes a baseline goal of 20 percent participation by MBE firms. As part of this effort, ACCESS will assist infrastructure preparation by developing a list of eligible firms, in addition to contacting state and regional HUB/MBE agencies to expand outreach to companies located outside of Winston-Salem. This will include coordinating with the NCDOA for HUB businesses, the City of Winston- Salem MWBE Program, the Guilford County MWBE program, etc. Any additional subcontractors provided by these agencies will be vetted by ACCESS to ensure they are applicable for the project.

“Diversity in supply chain doesn’t just keep pricing competitive, it creates a groundswell of economic growth for a local community—that is the work of the ACCESS Center, and that is why this partnership is vital to Winston-Salem, and critical for diversely-owned business,” said ACCESS founder and CEO Wilson Lester.

ACCESS will also utilize the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Opportunity Portal to help match eligible low- and extremely low-income workers to jobs and training opportunities as part of the infrastructure work.

“Inclusive innovation requires intentional focus on making sure historically underutilized companies and workers have an equal shot in participating in the work of building this district,” said Innovation Quarter director of community relations Lindsey Schwab. “This partnership with ACCESS will help drive us toward measurable goals in MBE participation in our upcoming infrastructure work.”