For the Water Bureau, a focus on social equity means setting clear priorities and continuously looking at ways to remove barriers. Thinking about who is doing the work and who is benefitting from the work.
“A key part of that is including equity in every project,” said Jodie Inman, Chief Engineer of the Water Bureau. “By achieving and even exceeding equity contracting goals in our construction projects, we can help stimulate the local economy, address historical inequities, and ensure our workforce reflects the diversity of the communities we serve.”
One of the City’s priorities is to hire more diverse contractors to build critical infrastructure. Supporting disadvantaged workers in the construction trades provides long-term benefits by helping minority- and women-owned businesses grow their capacity to take on more projects and by introducing new firms to the water sector.
Valley Growers Associates, a certified Disadvantaged, Minority, and Women Business Enterprise, was one of the firms involved in the Water Bureau’s recent Improved Corrosion Control Treatment and Washington Park Reservoir Improvements construction projects. “My vision is to employ a lot of disadvantaged minorities, and we were able to do that through these projects,” said Vicqui Guevara, owner of Valley Growers Associates.
The City is also prioritizing creating career pathways—from apprentice to journey worker and from business startup to expansion—to make sure money invested in capital projects benefits underrepresented groups.
“I talk to apprentices that come onboard on projects, ‘How are you doing?’ And they’re all excited about how they’ve grown and how they’ve developed,” said Faye Birch, principal at F.M. Burch & Associates.
As the Water Bureau plans for construction of the Bull Run Filtration Projects, we are aiming to meet or exceed equity contracting goals. We’re also working with contractors to share information about upcoming contract opportunities to build the new water filtration facility and large-diameter pipelines.
Andre Baugh, principal at Group AGB, said these projects are great opportunities for contractors.
“They pay well and give people economic independence. If you have that experience, that gives you an opportunity to start your own company and hire other people and grow.”
Chief Engineer Jodie Inman said the City’s continued focus on social equity while building and maintaining critical infrastructure will provide lasting benefits for our community.
“By improving opportunity for community members, particularly those with the least access to resources, the bureau is best able to serve all Portlanders.”
To learn more about upcoming Bull Run Filtration contracting opportunities, visit the Filtration Project Construction Workforce Opportunities webpage.
To learn more about the certification, contract types, programs and policies at the City of Portland, visit the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in Contracting webpage.