Three Black owned construction firms joined forces to form the Presidential Partners consortium. It has recently been announced that this new joint venture will take the lead on the $300 million construction of the Obama Presidential Center.
The Presidential Partners consortium of Powers & Sons Construction, UJAMAA Construction, Brown & Momen, and Safeway Construction. These companies represent some of the most established and well-respected Black owned construction firms in Chicago.
Alone, none of these companies had the experience to win the bid to construct the institution that is slated for Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood. Together, according Mike Strautmanis, vice president at the Obama Foundation, it was an easy choice.
“One, they’re talented,” Strautmanis says. “We know they’ve been involved in other construction projects around the city and the Midwest, so between them all we knew they could handle the complexity.”
President Obama himself signed off on the new team, and Strautmanis says the selection is part of the president’s commitment to the community.
“We want to set the stage for a new model,” Strautmanis says. “The new model is you don’t have to have a white firm with minority partners on the side. You want to have real diversity: minority firms in the lead with a seat at the table.”
According to Next City, community activists and residents are reportedly still pressing the foundation to sign a contract guaranteeing well-paid, long-term jobs to local residents.
Obama has said that he will not sign such a contract. But the foundation believes that in selecting a construction management team, it has “picked firms that demonstrated they could handle the community’s concerns,” according to the Tribune.
Construction is slated to begin by the end of the year. It will start on the west side of Jackson Park.
The Obama Presidential Center is scheduled to open in 2020.