Washington University, Big Contractors Mentor Young Minority-Owned Firms

By on August 27, 2018

From St. Louis Post-Dispatch:  On most days, about 425 construction workers are busy on the east end of Washington University’s campus.

With a 790-space underground parking garage, new academic halls and a visitors center all under construction as part of the $280 million project to fill in what used to be six acres of surface parking, McCarthy Building Cos. is working with about 50 subcontractors and suppliers on the project.

One of them, though, is getting special treatment.

It’s not just a business relationship between Ladue-based McCarthy, one of the largest general contractors in the region, and piping and fabrication subcontractor STL Direct Mechanical. The two are part of a program Washington University started to pair construction subcontractors owned by racial minorities with some of the region’s largest general contractors who mentor the small firms and help them grow.

“In the end, Washington University and McCarthy want us to succeed, they want to help us,” said Mishaal Taqui, president of STL Direct Mechanical. “They’re doing it for all the right reasons, not just to make numbers.”

Many public entities, such as the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District and the city of St. Louis, use capital projects to help minority- and women-owned construction firms grow their business. But they often do it by setting goals for a percentage of work to be performed by firms owned by minorities and women.

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