Women, minorities to play key role in Vikings stadium construction

9:46 PM, Jul 29, 2013   |    comments
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The first in a series of meetings surrounding the new Minnesota Vikings stadium was held on Monday night in Minneapolis.

Mortenson Construction and the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority hosted the event with the goal of letting sub-contractors know the process of bidding for work as well as who must make up the workforce.

The goal is to work with 11 percent women-owned businesses and nine percent minority-owned businesses, officials explained. They also said that workforce participation must be at 32 percent minority and six percent women during the construction phase.

"They are challenging goals. I think everybody acknowledges that. They are higher than what has ever been achieved on a major project before," said John Wood, Senior Vice President with Mortenson Construction.

Where will all those women and minority workers come from? They'll be hired by the sub-contractors. So the message in these meetings is clear -- start hiring.

That's good news to people like LaVonne Francis, who is president of  Better Barrier Solutions.

"It's just a wonderful opportunity to come in and get our name out there and to let people know what products we have," she said.

And great news to Keon Whittler and Gary Hinez.

"We only got about five weeks of school left," said the men who will soon graduate from Summit Academy in carpentry.

And welcome news to Leonard Prescott, who is trying to get Native Americans to rely on something other than casinos for livelihood.

"My whole purpose in the project is to try to get Native Americans employed," he says.

And once those workers are in the workforce, they're in the workforce for good.

"It's not really about this project. It's about creating a pipeline of workers of the future that are going to make up the men and women of the Minnesota construction industry in the years to come," said Wood.

The next meetings are on Aug. 6 at the Rochester Marriott, Ballroom II, 101 1st Avenue Southwest in Rochester, on Aug. 7 at the Duluth-Greysolon Ballroom by Black Woods, Moorish Room, 231 East Superior Street in Duluth and on Aug. 8 at the Mankato City Center Hotel, Hughes Johnson Banquet Room, 101 East Main Street in Mankato.

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