Local construction company recognized for helping women, minorities succeed in building trade

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Construction is picking up across the metro and one large company is being recognized for helping women and minorities succeed in the building trades.

Women and minority-owned firms are helping build the new U.S. Soccer National Training Center.

For 20 years, Turner Construction has provided free education and training to minorities and women who want a piece of the booming building business.

The Turner School of Construction Management helps diverse entrepreneurs grow and become more competitive, while working with the company on big projects, like the U.S. Soccer National Training Center.

Turner tries to give between 10 and 15 percent of subcontracting work, regardless of whether it's a public or private project, to minority and women-owned firms.

"As we get more business, we need the firms that can actually do the work with us," said Mark Iammarino, vice president and general manager of Turner KC. "Professional firms. We feel that if we bring up the industry, the industry will rise up together. That’s why we’re doing it. We’re giving back to them. The construction management skills they will need to run their own business."

In the last ten years, Turner has awarded $500-million in contracts to minorities and women in Kansas City, thanks in part to the success of its construction management school.

Graduates of the program say they may be skilled in their trade, but the program helped them become better managers dealing with other issues like banking, insurance and bonding.

"As a young business, especially where if you have a background not coming out of the business world, but coming out of the construction world, you know how to do what you do," explained Bill Alexander, a Turner school graduate. "But what you don’t know how to do is the business side. And all the hidden parts out there that you don’t recognize or haven’t seen because of where you came from."

The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Minority Contractors Association will honor Turner Thursday for helping 700 students in the metro area advance their construction businesses.

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