Harrisburg University reached a diversity goal its board of
trustees set before construction of its University Tower
started in fall 2006.

Harrisburg University reached a diversity goal its board of
trustees set before construction of its University Tower
started in fall 2006.

The board wanted to ensure that 20 percent of the
subcontractors hired to build its $73 million home were minority-owned
businesses and 5 percent were owned by women, said Geoffrey McDowell, chairman
of the board’s building and grounds committee.

With about eight months left until the project is finished,
the goal has been met, said Eric Darr, HU’s executive vice president. The
university expects to exceed its goal, he added.

HU generally tries to conduct business with 15 percent
minority-owned businesses and 5 percent that are owned by women, McDowell said.
The board of trustees wanted to be more aggressive with its approach to
constructing the building, McDowell said.

The university’s mission is based on workforce development
and building talent in the community, Darr added. So including minority- and
women-owned businesses only makes sense, he said.

Harrisburg-based Reynolds Construction Management Inc. is
the construction manager and general contractor of the project. HU’s board made
it part of Reynolds’ job to hire minority- and women-owned subcontractors.
Reynolds hired Young & Company, a Harrisburg-based diversity-advocacy firm,
to accomplish the goal.

Young & Company president Dellanor Young helped connect
Reynolds to minority-and women-owned businesses that had the capacity and means
to get jobs done.

Some smaller firms Young works with teamed up with other
small firms to take on certain contracts, Young said. And Reynolds waived performance
bonds for some of the smaller firms on the project so they could win work, too,
said David S. Angle, Reynolds president.

Typically, Reynolds would hire one contractor to perform all
the electrical work on the project. In this case, the company spread the
contract out to other firms to include minority and women contractors, Angle

Gary Farmer, a local master electrician, partnered with a
woman-owned firm to take on a large electrical contract, Young said.

HU helped 22 minority- and women-owned businesses from the
region garner a total of $10 million in work, Young said. There were nine
minority firms hired just from Harrisburg,
she said. The firms helped sustain jobs for women and minorities, too, Young
said. These firms are not just led by minority or women figureheads, she said.
The firms had to competitively bid on jobs with each other also, she said.

“When you walk by the site, you see the community
represented,” Young said.

There are minority-owned suppliers and block layers working
on the site at Fourth and Market streets in Harrisburg, Angle said. Dwight Henry’s
company, Goal Line Construction, is hanging drywall in the 371,000-square-foot
building. It’s the largest contract the remodeling company won since opening in
Harrisburg in
2006, Henry said.

“It’s helped us enormously,” Henry said. “Not only
financially, but by meeting other companies. We have gotten other work on this
project out of it.”

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