Building Diversity

Posted 10-06-10

It will take many hands to build the Albert Sherman Center (ASC). So to help promote participation from a diverse range of companies, a special event was held recently for minority- and women-owned businesses that are interested in bidding on parts of the project.

The seminar was hosted by the ASC construction manager, Berry (a Division of Suffolk Construction), in cooperation with the Medical School's Purchasing Department and Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office.

More than 400 companies from northeast states that are certified by the Massachusetts State Office of Minority and Women Business Assistance (SOMWBA) were invited to the August 31 event. Representatives from 18 companies attended, many from the "finishing trades" of construction, such as installing drywall, flooring, fixtures, building systems, and the like.

Berry managers discussed the various subcontracting opportunities that will soon be opened up for bidding at the ASC, and they are now working with several of the companies on a detailed "pre-qualification" process that must be completed prior to bidding.

Beyond the potential for ASC construction work, several of the companies that attended the seminar are now in discussions with the UMMS Purchasing Department to evaluate potential opportunities for doing business with the school in other ways. "It was a great event," said Jeff DiCiaccio, the school's senior director of purchasing. "Right now, we spend about $ 6 million a year with diverse vendors, and we are always looking to develop and sustain relationships with a diverse group of suppliers. It's essential for fostering healthy competition, which, in turn, enables our purchasing agents to obtain the very best goods and services for the university."