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Program to hire diverse workers for Chicago construction jobs

Posted on September 5, 2017

A new project will require companies to hire diverse workers for Chicago construction jobs.

Many of the city’s largest construction projects will now be required to report on their efforts to solicit and hire minority- and women-owned business (MBE/WBE). The action was taken through an executive order signed today by Mayor Emanuel.

“For too long many major development projects have reshaped our neighborhoods without employing the people who live in them,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This order will help ensure these major projects not only help to build Chicago, but also support the diverse mix of families that call it home.”

The executive order requires developers seeking Planned Development (PD) zoning approvals by the Chicago Plan Commission to submit signed affidavits about their efforts to promote and incorporate participation by certified MBE/WBE firms and plans for local hiring.

The affidavits are to be provided at three different stages during the development process:

  • Prior to Plan Commission consideration: The developer must identify all planned outreach efforts such as through community meetings, hiring fairs, direct marketing or other methods.
  • Prior to the issuance of building permits: The developer must submit records of all completed and future outreach efforts, along with responses from potential participants.
  • Prior to project completion: The developer must identify actual MBE/WBE participation and local hiring data for the project.

Failure to provide the affidavits may prevent the projects from receiving approval or being certified for occupancy by the Department of Buildings.

Previously, no MBE/WBE or local participation was required of developers seeking zoning approval who didn’t also seek other forms of City assistance, such as financing or land. PDs are a special zoning designation for projects that exceed certain size, height and density thresholds. Each project requires the review and approval of the Chicago Plan Commission and City Council.

In 2016, approved PDs accounted for $3.69 billion in construction costs, creating an estimated 18,000 jobs in the process, according to the Department of Planning and Development (DPD). DPD provides staff services and makes recommendations to the Plan Commission.

“From now on, in addition to looking at the physical aspects of new projects, the City will be reviewing who’s actually doing the work to build them,” DPD Commissioner David L. Reifman said. “The public should know which developers truly support participation by minorities, women and local residents.”