The development team behind the $440 million Electric Works mixed-use innovation district in Fort Wayne say they will use Phase 1 of the construction process to support women and minority-owned businesses through an agreement with nonprofit Joshua’s Hand. RTM Ventures says the partnership will establish three goals to address the region’s skilled tradespeople shortage.
The agreement includes Weigand Construction, who is serving as construction manager for the project and will oversee several apprenticeship programs.
“This is not something we or the developers are required to do – it’s something we want to do,” added Larry Weigand, CEO of Weigand Construction. “We understand firsthand how important training and preparing the next generation of skilled tradespeople is for our regional economy – and Electric Works, as a regionally transformative project, provides a unique opportunity to lead the way in these efforts.”
One goal is for at least 15 percent of construction-related contracts during Phase 1 to come from Minority Business Enterprises and Women Business Enterprises. Another ambition of the project is to have at least 20 percent of entry-level workers enter into stilled trades apprenticeship-track programs following construction.
“We recognize with Electric Works the profound potential this project has to positively impact the lives of so many throughout the region, and that includes in areas of need here in our city,” said Cedric Lee Walker, founder and CEO of Joshua’s Hand. “We are honored to play a role in helping ensure the positive economic impact of the project’s construction phase benefits women- and minority-owned businesses and creates opportunities for underemployed residents to pursue careers in the skilled trades.”
The third major goals is to recruit and hire underemployed and unemployed Fort Wayne residents, along with those interested in pursuing construction trades. The 39-acre development includes 18 historic buildings and over 1.2 million square feet of space.