Access to contracting opportunities for business owners was at the top of the agenda at the Chatham Business Association’s monthly meeting last Tuesday morning.
Members were provided information on how to place bids to secure construction contracts for the build-out of two new charter schools in Chicago.
UNO Charter School Network (UNO) used the CBA meeting as a platform to invite minority business owners to apply for contracting opportunities. The organization manages nine charter schools in Chicago and is the largest direct-service charter school management firm in Illinois.
“Our approach to our project is to try to be as inclusive as we can,” said Andrew Alt, vice president of real estate and facilities for UNO. He added that the organization prides itself on ensuring there is a high level of participation among M/WBE enterprises and smaller corporations.
Representatives from architecture firms currently working with UNO on the project gave brief presentations of the schools’ floor plans and features. One of the new schools will be located on the city’s Northwest side while the other will be built on the Southwest side.
CBA President Marino Orlandi thanked UNO for sharing their business opportunities with its members.
“This is a very important first step in a partnership and we appreciate you coming out,” said Orlandi.
Ald. Michelle Harris, who gave opening remarks at the meeting, told the Chicago Citizen that business owners should also engage in building relationships with the surrounding residential community.
“When the residential community is in love with us and knows us on a personal basis, you’re more likely to get greater support,” said Harris. “It’s really important that as a business community, in CBA we start to embrace the residential component so they get to know who we are as businesses, what services and products we can deliver, [and] how that can start to support us and make us a more productive business community.”
CBA Vice Chairman Joseph Caldwell shared a special message for area business owners. “Those of you who are contractors, if you were called here this morning and asked to come in…it’s because we want you to take advantage of the opportunities.”
The vice chairman also emphasized the importance of jobs at the meeting’s closing.
“We talk about jobs in our community and how important they are and of course you’re here this morning because we want to create jobs,” said Caldwell. “We need jobs in our community, we need jobs in the City of Chicago, we need jobs in the United States of America.”
By Thelma Sardin