Skanska helps small, minority and women-owned firms deal with big budget projects

By Matthew Phair | September 28, 2010

It takes more than hard work to be a success in the construction business, especially when it comes to working with big contractors on large projects. That's why it's important to take advantage of training programs when they come along that can help with the project. In December of 2007, Skanska USA Building Inc. announced that its "Construction Management Building Blocks Training Program" — an eight-week course intended to expose small, minority and women-owned business (S/M/WBE) firms to skill sets and issues they need to master to make their businesses grow and prepare them to deal with large budget projects with Skanska as well as other major construction management companies — graduated its first New Jersey class of 36 students. The students represented a broad range of trade specialties including electrical, masonry and drywall, as well as suppliers of related materials and equipment. The ceremony took place at the future home of the New Meadowlands Stadium for the Giants and the Jets.

"For these small, minority and women-owned firms, the dream to work on big projects is one step closer to reality," said Skanska's Corporate Diversity Director James Threalkill.

"This program is a key example of Skanska's commitment to open the doors for S/M/WBE firms to work on large projects such as the New Meadowlands Stadium and other developments throughout New Jersey," said Skanska's Vice President, Account Manager Frank Falciani, who is in charge of the New Meadowlands Stadium project.

Helping small, minority and women-owned contracting firms secure part of multimillion-dollar construction projects like the New Meadowlands Stadium, Skanska, in conjunction with Rutgers University and the NJ Small Business Development Centers (NJ SBDC), developed specific courses such as marketing to large construction management firms, estimating and bid preparation, bonding and insurance, project startup and close out, legal processes and safety, among others.

Future City Competition Targets Student Designers

Getting an earlier start on even bigger dreams — and nightmares — this year were seventh- and eighth-graders in the annual National Engineers Week Future City Competition. Normally creating cities with utopia in mind, this year, they're also confronted the world's worst urban disasters and there's no mistaking them for utopia. From a small Kansas town destroyed last year by a tornado, to the war-ravaged Gaza Strip, to Linfen, China, one of the most polluted cities on earth, Future City students across the country are dealing with real problems, determined to prevent them and build a better tomorrow.

Future City, in its 16th year, asks middle school students to create a city, first on computer and then in a large tabletop model. Students present and defend their designs before volunteer engineer judges from the community at regional competitions. A sampling of projects from across the country indicates that this year's Future City students are facing some of the most difficult challenges on the globe and engineering solutions.

Students at Westridge Middle School in Shawnee Mission, Kansas, are using the hometown of their fellow Kansans in Greensburg for the basis of their Future City. Last May, a Category 5 tornado destroyed 95 percent of Greensburg and killed 11 residents. At Kutztown Area Middle School in Pennsylvania, students wrestled with the difficulties of rebuilding Gaza, a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Future City 2008 essay theme also plays a major role for the team from Nativity of Our Lord School in Orchard Park, New York, near Buffalo. Those students have adopted Linfen, China, with a population in excess of 4 million and more than 200 major contaminants in its air and water, as the model for their city.

Regional winning teams received an all-expense-paid trip to the Future City National Finals, hosted by Bentley Systems, Incorporated, in Washington, D.C., in February during Engineers Week. National grand prize was a trip to U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.