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The Obama Presidential Center project was a monumental win for Lakeside Alliance— a collective joint venture firm made up of Turner Construction and four African-American-owned Chicago-area construction companies— and while the project is in preconstruction, there is much work to be done outside of the actual construction of the project.
Located in the South Side of Chicago, the Lakeside Alliance Resource Center provides a central meeting space for the project team to reside prior to site mobilization. For the community, the space allows people access to information related to the project, such as training sessions and workshops for career development, apprenticeship programs for the trades, and at times, staff from the Barack Obama Foundation. Lakeside Alliance has also co-founded ‘We Can Build It’— a workforce training and career consortium. Led by Chicago Women in Trades, this consortium leverages the services of a number of existing workforce training organizations in Chicago for the benefit of the community and the project.
“The Lakeside Alliance team was designed to disrupt the ‘business as usual’ model in the construction industry,” said Pamyla Brown, Community and Citizenship Director at Turner Construction Company. “The team is intentional in the development of programs and processes which create meaningful community engagement.” Brown continued, “The creation of the Resource Center and how it operates provides a blueprint for any builder dedicated to leaving a community better than they found it.”
Since opening its doors, several organizations have hosted information sessions regarding accessing careers in the construction industry. For example, local apprenticeship coordinators conduct these sessions to provide attendees information regarding their respective apprenticeship programs and application process. To date, the carpenters, electricians, pipefitters, tile setters, bricklayers, laborers have all hosted information sessions, along with other workforce training organizations, such as Chicago Women in Trades, Opportunity Advancement Innovation, Inc., and St. Paul Development Ministries.
“The Resource Center is a space where organizations feel at home outside of their own facility,” said Linda Hannah, Program Director for Chicago Women in Trades. “The space sends a great message to the community— it says, here is our team, here’s the project and we want you to be part of its history.”
The Lakeside Alliance Resource Center also serves as a space for underrepresented business enterprises to introduce their services to the Lakeside Alliance procurement team. Representatives from operations, procurement, and diversity and inclusion meet with companies on a one-on-one basis. The team has used the feedback from these sessions to plan workshops designed for entrepreneurs, such as Accounting for Construction Businesses, Micro-Lending Programs, and Small Business Resources.