Berumen, with DTCG, a Herzog Contracting Corp. – Stacy and Witbeck Inc. Joint Venture, says they have a trucking consortium so any guy that owns a truck can join, whether they own one or 10. “It’s a lottery so you could get as much work as a big company.”
Once the company has certification through RTD, it can join the consortium and Berumen says, it’s been a huge boost for people to grow their company and capacity to do future work.
“One of the local TV stations did a story on one of the truckers that started out with one truck when he started in the consortium and now he has three trucks and he’s working on the Eagle Project,” she says. “It’s so exciting. He would have never been able to do that if someone didn’t help him and teach him. It just changed his life and he appreciates it.”
DTCG set a goal of 18 percent for small businesses, Berumen says, and that translates to close to $79 million in work. “And we will be over.” She continues, “That’s the first corridor that’s being built and that gets them ready to be a part of the rest.”
Building the Workforce
“My thought is, the economy of our country is being restructured; we go through this every now and then,” Washington says, explaining his perspective on our evolving economy. “In the 50s we had the Interstate Highway System; we built that … and it made jobs. In the 60s it was space exploration. We had to get on the moon; it created jobs. The economy restructured itself to chase that.
“In the 70s, 80s it was probably home ownership; we were going to build a whole bunch of homes, everybody’s got to own a home. And, that’s probably why we’re in some of the problems we’re in now. Then we had the big dot com thing. We’ve got to chase that.”
He continues, “I don’t know if people agree with me, but I believe we are in another phase of restructuring our economy and it’s called rebuilding or building our infrastructure.
“We’ve got bridges falling down, we’ve got highways messed up, our transit agencies, especially the ones back East, aging unbelievably with the equipment and all of that. And, at the same time, we have high unemployment.” He stresses, “There’s an intersection between the need to rebuild our infrastructure and need to create jobs.”
What they’ve done at RTD is to trumpet that intersection and to say that everything that goes out the door at RTD with regard to its projects and the pursuit of federal funding, has Workforce Initiative (WIN) program language in it. They’re building infrastructure and at the same time, training folks to get good jobs.
When Washington talks about partnerships, one of the areas they’ve looked at is the training partners in the community, community colleges in Denver. “We will ask our training partners in the community to train some of these people in the work skills that we need,” Washington says. “We have made a conscious effort to link that jobs piece to our infrastructure build-out and as a result of that, we were successful in getting almost half a million dollars for our workforce program from the Federal Transit Administration late last year.”
Washington says they wanted to build a partner program with the community colleges of Denver, 34 training providers that are mostly small businesses or not-for-profits, RTD and the Denver Transit Partners, who are building the Eagle P3 Project.
“This program is open to anybody, but we are really focusing on the communities that are located along the alignment that we are building which are the most impoverished zip codes in this area,” Washington says. “What we’re saying is look, we’re building an infrastructure project through your community, we want you to be a part of this.
“If you come to the table and you don’t have a high school diploma, then one of our partners, in this case, community colleges of Denver, will get you your GED; you’ve got to go there first.”
After that, they will assess their skills and what they like to do and send them to training, including the soft skills, such as interviewing.
“Then the contractor that’s building the project, they have committed to a certain percentage of the jobs for the project and they’re going to put you to work,” says Washington.