Creating jobs…

Over the years I have worked with numerous business owners that have the desire to grow their business
but in many instances they have all shared the same frustrations in getting more customers or more business.
Since products and services are not one-size-fits-all, it really takes a plan to reach those results.

In the role of an agency, that don’t sell products, providing insight or advocacy is a service just as important
as a for-profit product or service. Many of you have received emails promoting a business, providing information
about or for your business, and articles written on doing better business; or not doing what brings business down.

To that end, I want to touch on the construction side of business since it is a big thing in Kansas right now.

Our agency is focused on getting Black folks good paying jobs or the skills to obtain them. When we succeed in
helping a business grow we hope it eventually means they will be able to hire people and therefore bring them
into the economy. This is how many immigrants find work or grow their business. Currently, there are some large
construction projects going on in Kansas. Ft. Riley, Ft. Leavenworth, the Topeka Bridge Project, the Renovation
of the state Capitol to name a few biggies that are right under our nose. In Kansas City KS there is a lot of building
going on around the Kansas Speedway and the Legends area, and the spinoff of work surrounding Ft. Riley
include Junction City and Manhattan. In a nutshell, if you have a business that can provide this type of work, or
the skills / interest in doing this kind of work there is no shortage of opportunity.

Part of the problem in getting contracts have been a companies capacity to effectively compete. It may be lack
of proper insurance or workman’s comp, bonding issues, lack of capital, or administrative help to get the paperwork
in order and submitted in a timely fashion. Without taking care of these issues we not only don’t get the work, but
we also don’t create the jobs. In the end we have too many of our folks on the outside looking in and in some cases
resentment towards those who got the jobs and contracts. How do we fix this???

I have discussed this with several businesses involved in the construction industry that are general contractors. These
are companies that don’t to the sub-contracting work, but are the primary contractors that in turn sub out the work. On
many larger projects (those whereas a contract may be worth $500,000 to $3M) having the capacity to get them is high.
But, when we don’t get them it knocks out two birds, the contractor and the potential employees to work the job. Both are
then sitting on the sidelines while others reap the financial reward.

In several cases, the General Contractors don’t want to be sub-contractors; which they have the right and should expect
fairness in bidding, but without willingness to have latitude in order to keep work and employees working we sort of
throw the baby out with the bath water. Maybe all serious contractors should develop divisions in their company’s that
focus on winning the sub-contracted work too?

Many people believe that some work is better than none at all. That’s what probation officers tell their folks as well
as welfare case managers. We even talk about Black folks needing to take any job if that’s what it takes to take
care of themselves and their families and responsibilities. Shouldn’t this apply to Black contractors too?

I hate to see the Billions of dollars in construction work pass us by because we have not formed a way to take advantage of the opportunities. We will never see a large reduction of Black unemployment in Kansas if we stay the course and will
continue to see others decreasing their unemployment numbers because they play by a different strategy book than
we do. Regardless of who is Governor, President, Senator or Congressperson, we have to be wise enough to take our
destiny in our own hands because no one can better do for others until they best do for themselves. I think we all have
an opportunity; if not responsibility to share information that can help someone else better their lot in life. Now there’s a New Years resolution to consider.

Lazone Grays