For many years, AGC of Missouri and the former AGC of St. Louis have actively worked to support the honest development of minority contractors. This effort started as early as the 1970's, when evening classes were held in our Construction Training School facility for such topics as estimating and project management, taught by volunteer instructors from majority companies specifically for minority construction firms.
When AGC of America developed the Stempel Plan, AGC of St. Louis (now AGC of Missouri) was an early adopter of the program. To develop a unique and inclusive approach to the Stempel Plan, the program was co-sponsored with the AGC and the St. Louis Minority Business Council. This co-chaired program operated for several successful years, helping with the development of firms that are still in business today.
One of the barriers for the AGC Stempel Plan was finding the resources needed for staffing and full time operations. A joint labor/management group stepped forward to create the Regional Union Construction Center (RUCC). The RUCC takes the Stempel Plan model and builds on it by funding a full time staff person to create, manage, schedule, and monitor the developmental teams for each MBE involved in the RUCC. AGC of Missouri continues to provide input as a member of the RUCC board and through annual financial support.
When Washington University in St. Louis decided to start a minority contractor developmental program entitled "The Business of Construction", AGC was there again. The program included a mix of both college professors in such areas as marketing and business, and AGC contractor practitioners in each of these areas. The balance between academic theory and practical application proved to be a significant help to many minority firms just getting up and off the ground.
In order to cut through some of the rhetoric and subjectivity surrounding barriers to minority contractor development and growth, AGC contracted with the Public Research Policy Center at the University of Missouri,St. Louis to perform an objective analysis. This research study included statistical analysis of financial and demographic information, and surveys and interviews with both majority and minority contractors. One of the key findings of this study was that both majority and minority contractors agreed that the single biggest barrier to growth of MBE's was access to capital.
Last year, AGC of Missouri was one of the founding contributors to the Contractor Loan Fund in St. Louis. The Contractor Loan Fund is a partnership between governmental agencies, investment experts, lending institutions, contractors, and community organizations in an attempt to bridge the 'access to capital' gap for MBE's. As of the date of this article, over $10 million has been contributed and pledged to capitalize this fund. Loans to MBE's are starting to be made, and the amount of contractor loans made by this fund is growing.
While lots of entities focus on the 'demand' side of the equation, AGC of Missouri prefers to focus on the 'supply' side whether through training, coaching, mentoring, access to capital, or helping MBE's connect through our many AGC services.