OneWest launches accelerator for minority-owned construction businesses

By Nicole Childress, Building Kentucky

A new business accelerator designed to advance minority-owned construction companies is coming to Louisville.

OneWest, a local nonprofit dedicated to economic development and advancement in the West End, recently announced the launch of “The Plan Room.”

The Plan Room will help Black and brown business owners grow their construction companies by supplying an “ecosystem of resources.” And its not just for general and sub-contractors, design (architecture and engineering) and construction supply companies are welcome too.

Evon Smith, President and CEO of OneWest

“We want to make sure that Black and brown business owners have the training, tools and access they need to become serious contenders for jobs in the region,” said OneWest President and CEO Evon Smith.

The Plan Room will provide free education, training, mentorship, professional services, and networking in a physical space. The Plan Room will also offer resources like sharable equipment, bidding opportunities and marketing services at no cost.

“As we work to build wealth and bring growth to the West End in Louisville and all of Louisville, we hope The Plan Room will become a beacon for project managers and property developers to hire and collaborate with qualified minority businesses in our community,” Smith said.

Along with OneWest, four community partners are helping to create the accelerator: KPFF Consulting Engineers, 7PM Group LLC, Louisville Central Community Center Inc. (LCCC) and the University of Louisville College of Business.

KPFF will train participants to enter Building Information Modeling (BIM) careers, while 7PM Group, a minority-owned construction support-company, will help set up The Plan Room. LCCC will assist in assessing accelerator candidates, and the UofL College of Business will manage the business curriculum.

“The University of Louisville takes its role as an economic catalyst for the community very seriously. We give people the tools to improve their lives and their communities,” UofL College of Business Dean Todd Mooradian said. “This Plan Room initiative is exactly how our college should be involved in West Louisville. We are teaching business — that is our core, distinctive competency — and we’re showing the way to building opportunities and wealth in the community. Our team has conducted an extensive needs assessment, including a series of four deep-dive focus groups, to clarify the curriculum and training needed for previously underrepresented groups to win bids and contracts.”

To be a client of The Plan Room your company does not have to be a certified MBE, just 51% minority-owned. Businesses interested in becoming a part of The Plan Room community can apply here.

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