DuPage County launches construction equity program

DuPage County officials are seeking to hire diverse contractors for future construction projects.
Daily Herald file, March 2020

DuPage County hopes to include more minority- and women-owned businesses in its construction projects.

County board members recently approved the creation of a disadvantaged, women- and minority-owned business enterprise program. With it, the county will hire a director to lead the newly created division of contracting equity.

The move comes after a study showed few minority contractors participating in county construction projects, totaling $131.3 million, between 2017 to 2021. The study showed the county spent most of its construction money, or just under 90%, with white, male-owned contractors.

DuPage County Board Chairwoman Deborah Conroy said diversifying the companies the county does business with was one of the top priorities for her first term.

“DuPage County has become so richly diverse and we’re evidently not reaching out to these groups,” she said. “Reaching out to these folks will really enrich our county.”

The county last week posted the new job for the director of contracting equity. The proposed salary range is $90,000 to $120,000. Additional staff also may be hired for the program.

County officials said the director will work with other agencies, such as the Illinois Department of Transportation, that have established working relationships with various women- and minority-owned contractors. The director also will work to educate contractors on the county’s program.

County officials anticipate the program to be fully in effect next year.

The county will set guidelines for contracts individually to help boost participation of minority- or women-owned businesses in construction projects. Some projects may require a higher percentage participation than others.

Ultimately, however, the county hopes the program becomes successful enough to be phased out.

“The goal around this is that in six years when we go back to do another diversity study we’ll no longer need the program because we will have reached the goal,” DuPage County Chief of Staff Nick Kottmeyer said.

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