Conference sheds light on area economic developments

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2014 HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE—MWDBE Governmental Committee member Clarence Curry awards Monica Jones.

David W. Borneman, ALCOSAN Director of Engineering and Construction explained that if accepted the $2.8 billion dollar Wet Weather Project will provide all types of opportunities for the next several years. The sewer improvement project is labeled as public works largest project in the region’s history.  As part of a Consent Decree issued by the Federal Court in Pittsburgh on behalf of the US Environmental Protection Agency, the PA Department of Environmental Protection and the Allegheny County Health Department, ALCOSAN is mandated to improve water quality and protect designated waterway uses that include drinking water, recreation, aquatic life, and others. A non-profit agency, ALCOSAN provides wastewater treatment services to 83 communities including the City of Pittsburgh.

The largest construction contract awarded to a minority business enterprise in the history of Pittsburgh has been granted to Keith B. Key Enterprises. The $160 million Addison Terrace Project located in the center of Pittsburgh’s Hill District on approximately 50 acres will consist of a 400-unit town home, mixed income development. “The new housing market rate and subsidized housing development will be constructed over the next five to six years in phases,” explained Keith B. Key project developer.

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2014 HALL OF FAME INDUCTEE—MWDBE Governmental Committee member Paula B. Castleberry (right) present the daughter and brother of Phillipe Petite; Layla and Oscar the award for the Hall of Fame induction.

KBK Enterprises, owned by Key, a Garfield native and Peabody High School graduate is described as a multi-dimensional corporation based in Columbus, Ohio with branches in Pittsburgh and New Orleans. Priding himself on exceeding the MBE/WBE requirements on the Garfield Commons Project he said his goal is to do even better on the Addison project. “”Our mission is about changing lives,” he said. “And we do that by providing jobs and opportunities.”

To assure that minorities and women are included in the East Liberty Transit Center project and other developments occurring in East Liberty, MBE outreach meetings have been taking place. According to Rebecca Schenck, Project Development Specialist for the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh goals are; 18 per cent for MBEs, seven per cent for WBEs and five per cent for DBEs. To date demolition of the Tennis Center and the Citizens Bank Drive through is underway along with the demolition of the two pedestrian bridges connecting East Liberty Station to Stevenson Place. Demolition of the Old East Liberty Station Loop is scheduled to soon begin.

Excited about the possibilities, Caster D. Binion, Executive Director of the Housing Authority of the City of Pittsburgh described the Lincoln/Larimer Project as a $30 million development.  Partnering with KBK Enterprises he said the first phase will consist of 85 units. Already KBK Enterprises has been awarded the redevelopment contract along Meadow Avenue and Larimer Avenue totaling 3.61 acres and including 40 units of townhomes and green space.

Discussions and negations are still underway as to what type of development will occur on the Lower Hill Development site. The 28-acre piece of land on Centre Avenue was once the home of the Civic Arena. Now owned by the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh hopes are that the development will be a mix use of residential and commercial development.

New this year, the MWDBE Governmental Committee incorporated a DBE Business Spotlight. Derrick Wilson, president and CEO of the Wilson Group, LLC was this year’s focus. Located on the North Side, Wilson described his business as selling and servicing Sharp products. He said his company is set to cater to the goals and objectives of business partners while streamlining their process, increasing employee productivity and decreasing their hard and soft costs.

Monica Jones, former MWDBE Governmental Committee member and the late Phillipe R. Petite was this year’s Hall of Fame Inductees. Jones, now an entrepreneur is a founding member of the committee and former manager of the DBE Department of the Allegheny County Airport Authority. For the past 15 years she has served on the Board of Directors of the Garfield Jubilee Association, a faith base community development organization.

Also a founding member of the Governmental Committee, Petite, according to his brother District Justice Oscar Petite had a passion for helping disadvantaged businesses. Since 1999 he served as manager of the Equal Opportunity Review Commission for the City of Pittsburgh where he strived to ensure that minority and women businesses were provided opportunities to bid for contracts. Petite was the recipient of the Living Legend Award presented by former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl honoring him as a true leader and champion of diversity and had been recognized as a pioneer of diversity by the MWDBE business community and political allies for more than 20 years. Petite passed away in September of 2013.

The MWDBE Governmental Committee consists of a group of city, state, county and federal governmental agency representatives.  Its mission is to create effective methods that strengthen economic opportunities for Minority, Women, and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises and to provide assistance enabling contractors and businesses to secure contracts in the goods and service, construction and professional services markets leading to profitability and growth for the businesses.

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