In drafting plans for a new biotech center on its Birmingham campus, Southern Research is working with its general contractor, Brasfield & Gorrie, to maximize opportunities for Black- and women-owned firms.
Josh Carpenter, president and CEO of Southern Research, is encouraging minority vendors and contractors to take steps now to plug into potential opportunities to participate in the $84 million project.
“Brasfield & Gorrie has great structures in place to maximize opportunities for small, minority, and women-owned firms,” Carpenter said. “Although we’re still early in the process, we’re encouraging potential vendors and contractors to get in the pipeline now.”
Any interested businesses should register with Brasfield & Gorrie’s EQUIP program at https://www.brasfieldgorrie.com/news-type/equip/southernresearch/.
The EQUIP program offers small and minority trade contractors access to educational workshops on industry best practices, as well as information on upcoming projects and networking opportunities with Brasfield & Gorrie teams.
“Our firm’s approach to inclusion is one that focuses on strengthening the pipeline of small and minority firms in the industry, removing barriers to success, providing mentorship, and creating meaningful impact through project opportunities,” said Robby Hayes, regional vice president and division manager for Brasfield & Gorrie. “This is the way we operate on every project, and we are pleased that Southern Research is equally committed to these values.”
Southern Research’s new facility will be a research center that focuses on infectious diseases like COVID-19 as well as chronic diseases that threaten the health of Alabama. It will be the first new building on Southern Research’s campus since 1977.
The project is expected to generate more than 1,120 construction jobs between 2022 and 2023.
Potential opportunities for minority vendors range from construction work to professional services, technology, furnishings and design.
Carpenter said his goal is to maximize diversity from start to finish. In his former role in economic development for the City of Birmingham, Carpenter played a role in creating the VITAL initiative to track the city’s record as well as private businesses’ record of diversity in purchasing goods and services.
Carpenter’s hope is that Southern Research’s project will become a model for how substantial capital projects can expand opportunities for disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) and help diversify the vendor base in metro Birmingham.
“My abiding hope is that our project becomes a model for providing opportunities for Black- and women-owned businesses,” Carpenter said. “Ideally, people who land work with our project will expand the skills, relationships, and experiences that enable them to compete for even larger contracts in the future.”
As the project gets under way, Brasfield & Gorrie will host a trade contractor information session to educate prospective trade contractors and suppliers on the scope of the project and how to access documents to complete bids. The session will also give them a chance to meet the individual on the Brasfield & Gorrie team who will evaluate bids.
On earlier projects, these information meetings and networking opportunities have been described by minority contractors as pivotal in setting the stage for success.
“Spec 9 always looks forward to attending project opportunity sessions through Brasfield & Gorrie’s EQUIP program,” said Olandus Eason, president of Spec 9 Commercial Flooring. “Not only are the featured projects highly visible and exciting, but we get to connect with the project’s key players. The relationship opportunities resulting from these interactions are invaluable for any company seeking to scale up their business operations.”
Southern Research was founded in Birmingham in 1941 and is an independent, non-profit scientific research organization that employs 400 scientists, engineers and professional staff. It brings in $80 million in revenue each year and has an annual economic impact of $150 million. For more information, visit southernresearch.org.
Brasfield & Gorrie was founded in 1964 and is one of the nation’s largest privately held construction firms, providing general contracting, design-build, and construction management services for a wide variety of markets.