A new collaboration seeks to help small emerging businesses in Omaha compete for major construction contracts.
The Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, City of Omaha, and three educational institutions are collaborating on the REACH program. The goals are to help small emerging businesses expand their capacity through hiring, access to capital, and purchasing materials.
Winsley Durand, executive director of REACH, says 210 small emerging businesses are currently certified by the city of Omaha.
"We are looking to expand that group, we would hope that over a period of time we would double that pool of contractors that are certified. But one of the things that nobody has a clear handle on is exactly how many contractors are out there that are qualified and what their capacities are."
Jim Grotrian is executive vice president of Metropolitan Community College. He says their role in REACH is also to provide educational opportunities.
"Not only dealing with the priorities of today, but how do they continue down those career pathways to build an even bigger and more robust business, and/or just general competency in some of these career-related programs directly associated with a lot of the growth and the work going on in the community."
The three educational institutions—UNMC, Metro Community College, and OPS—are partners because they have upcoming construction projects. Durand says some small emerging businesses will be able to start competing for projects right away.