March is Women's History Month, a month where we acknowledge women's historical contributions and recognize the sacrifices made by women, to help make the world, and our country, a more inclusive and diverse place. Meet Project Engineer, Olivia Grunseich, a bright and shining star at BPGS Construction who's been working on the Lower Hill Redevelopment project for nearly two and a half years. She spent her early days orchestrating community outreach efforts focused on minority and women owned businesses (M/WBEs). This critical work effort opened up a direct communication line to Lower Hill job training and employment opportunities, now funneled through the First Source Center.
"Initially, I put a lot of time into building our M/WBE database of Pittsburgh companies, and spent a lot of time assisting our internal team because I became the person that basically had a hand in everything. As time went on and we started growing our partners and team, I was able to dive deeper into the development / construction realm, and began focusing more on tracking our development budget, schedules, and report metrics," says Oliva.
Acting as Development Coordinator for the Lower Hill Redevelopment, Olivia draws from her educational background in civil engineering and construction management to navigate the development process. She attributes her success to date on past projects and says by educating herself on things like contracts, RFI’s and schedules it has helped her have a better understanding of how everything works allowing her to have a better overall understanding of the project. "I’m excited to see through the different stages of construction and development for each of the projects on the Lower Hill and hope to gain a better understanding with each day," she says.
While acknowledging the wealth of knowledge gained working in collaboration with the development team and many consultants, she notes her time spent working alongside BPGS Construction Manager Matt Corace as some of the most impactful thus far;
"Matt has one of the toughest jobs and still puts aside time to teach me about construction. As the construction manager for the project, and a native Pittsburgher, Matt has taught me so much over the years and I really admire his drive and attention to details."
Similarly, Olivia has taken on a "teacher" role coaching small construction business owners in a two part class on bidding and estimating. For the second year in a row she is working with Riverside Center for Innovation BizFIT Tier II Construction cohort.
For women currently in or considering entering the construction field, Olivia's shares these words of encouragement:
"My advice for other women is to not dismiss your own thoughts and feelings. It can be very intimidating to be the only woman in a room full of men, but in a lot of situations, you bring a whole different perspective to the table. Building confidence is so important when working in a male-dominated field and the first step to succeeding is by trusting your own ideas and contributions."
Firms interested in construction opportunities click here
Individuals interesting in construction opportunities should go to the First Source Center
The Grand Opening of the First Source Center went beyond expectation on Tuesday evening June 8th and was attended by a substantial cross section of community members, local elected officials from the county and city, Rich Fitzgerald, Mayor Bill Peduto, Leonard Hammond (representative from Jake Wheatley's office) and City Councilman Daniel Lavelle, as well as Development Team members, Kevin Acklin, Boris Kaplan, Bomani M. Howze and Dr. Ellis. were all in attendance to mark this special occasion.
Tracey McCants-Lewis welcomed everyone and introduced emcee, Dr. Kimberly C. Ellis, who was also the last speaker from the development team. Her enthusiasm for the workforce center shown was apparent as she directed the crowd to take out their phones and save the phone number to the First Source Center. Every speaker shared this enthusiasm with inspiring and hopeful words about the historic moment, ways we will all work to rectify the past, and look forward to the many opportunities we have to “honor and repair” to “get it right, this time.”
The stage was flanked with a nice podium that had a “First Source Center” logo on the front with artwork from Charlotte and Mobutu from Moka Gallery framing the stage with two acrylic pieces that captured the essence of the A-Train and the Jazz Artists accompanying it. We also had a beautiful textile piece from Dawn Sturgess on display. After the speakers commenced festivities moved inside the walls of the historic Hill House and into the doors of the First Source Center. There we had two prints from artist, Norman Brown, on display in the front intake office and in the interview room. We have more room for art.
Tapping local talent, the event was catered by Chef Claudy’s Eminent Hospitality and he served salmon and chicken kabobs with vegetables. There were also Perrier sparkling waters and still waters, along with fruit and small bags of assorted chips. Delicious!
After the speakers spoke onstage, it started raining and we all went inside for the ribbon cutting! Lined up were the elected officials and members of the development team, with oversized and regular sized ones. Dr. Ellis did the countdown and the First Source Center was officially opened. Visitors were directed to the intake and interview office and conference rooms. They enjoyed seeing what we had to offer. PA CareerLink was very well represented at their table in the hallway and they were there to engage the public and answer questions.
Residents posted pictures on Facebook and other social media and celebrated the occasion. Some praised the event and appreciated having nice “to go” containers from the caterer.
As the rain stopped and the crowd thinned out, we began to clean up. Tracey, two members of her crew and Paul Ellis helped put the furniture back upstairs via the elevator and Tracey and Dr. Ellis were the last to leave.
On the first day following the Grand Opening, the phone calls came pouring in (there were 9 voicemails) and we had some visitors, from job seekers to potential partners—-a company needing forklift operators and Catalyst Connections, providing free training for welders, machinists and much more! An individual interested in being hired came in the morning and by the afternoon, they had a job offer!
When PJ Dick arrived on site via Theresa Giancarlo, there was a line of persons waiting to see her. The First Source Center concierge was managing the process and their schedule was packed! The First Source Center is clearly filling a need for both employers and future employees in the city of Pittsburgh!
Stay tuned for more great news!
See all the event pictures here
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The Buccini/Pollin Group, PJ Dick, and E. Holdings Inc. are hosted a virtual MWBE construction information session for diverse businesses to learn more about current and future opportunities for the Lower Hill Redevelopment Project(s). This session provides more information to minority and women owned businesses interested in construction related work, as well as outline resources available to support current and future business growth. It covers ways to get help with bidding, the bid submittal process, and opportunities for subcontracting with larger firms.
Watch the full presentation below:
For more information:
Email E. Holdings, Inc. at firstname.lastname@example.org
Penguins And BPG Announce Opening of Lower Hill First Source Employment Opportunity Center in the Historic Hill House
The Pittsburgh Penguins and development partner The Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG) are pleased to announce the opening of a Lower Hill First Source Employment Opportunity Center in the heart of Hill District, blocks away from the 28-acre Lower Hill redevelopment. The mission of the First Source Center is to provide a central location for residents to obtain better access to job opportunities, career training, and pathways to construction, professional and service-related employment in connection with the Lower Hill redevelopment, as well as more broadly with other employers across the City and region.
The First Source Center will be located on the first floor of the historic Hill House, located at 1835 Centre Avenue, in space leased from E Properties and Development, the owner and manager of the property. The build-out construction for the space is being completed by Massaro in a partnership with TD Construction, a Hill District-based minority contracting firm owned by Derrick Tillman and Darnell Dinkins.
Delivering upon the commitment by the development team under the Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan (CCIP) relating to the Lower Hill redevelopment, the grand opening for the First Source Center is planned for mid-May.
The Penguins and BPG recruited a group of founding partners to launch and operate the First Source Center, including PJ Dick, Massaro, and Mascaro construction companies, Partner4 Work, PA CareerLink, the Builders Guild of Western PA, and the A. Phillip Randolph Institute.
Programming at the First Source Center will assist residents seeking job opportunities, career training, career exploration, resume building and other workforce development services. Job readiness support including transportation assistance, record expungement, pardon assistance, and referrals to social and pro bono legal services will also be available at the First Source Center.
“We are excited to help bring job opportunities to residents in the heart of the Hill District,” said Dorin Dickerson, Director of Development with the Pittsburgh Penguins and formerly with Mascaro construction. “The opening of the First Source Center is timed with our advancement of redevelopment on the Lower Hill, which will bring thousands of construction jobs and thousands more permanent jobs to the city and the Hill District community,” said Dickerson.
The Penguins and BPG are coordinating a comprehensive outreach effort to fully inform residents from the Hill District and across the city and region of all employment opportunities on the Lower Hill redevelopment.
Lower Hill Redevelopment Minority Workforce Plan Receives Unanimous Approval Today from City's Equal Opportunity Review Commission
The Pittsburgh Penguins and development partner The Buccini / Pollin Group (“Buccini/Pollin”) announced that their Minority and Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) participation plan for the Lower Hill redevelopment project was approved unanimously today by the City’s independent Equal Opportunity Review Commission (EORC).
Chuck Durham, Business Diversity Manager for the Mayor’s office, notified the Urban Redevelopment Authority in a letter this afternoon that “the Commission voted to approve the plan as presented.”
“This is a historic day for the Lower Hill redevelopment project because it is the first independent confirmation that we are achieving our goals for M/WBE participation, as we have committed under the Community Collaboration and Implementation Plan (CCIP),” said David Morehouse, President and CEO of the Penguins. “Our team reached out to hundreds of M/WBE contractors, and we have already achieved almost 42% participation for minority and women-owned businesses. We now have a detailed plan approved by the independent EORC for advancing to achieve our overall M/WBE goals for the Lower Hill development.”
In his opening remarks to the EORC, Boris Kaplan, Senior Vice President of Development at Buccini Pollin, noted that the project will be “both a well-timed and much-needed economic lift to local contractors, suppliers and consultants and also a new model for inclusive procurement and equitable reinvestment for public and private development across the City.”
Bomani Howze, Vice President of Development at Buccini Pollin and a resident of the Hill District, outlined how the entire Lower Hill development team has been focused on maximizing opportunities for Black and women-owned businesses. “At a time when the Hill District and our entire city is recovering from the pandemic, we are building a bridge from the Lower Hill to generate wealth in the community and invest tens of millions of dollars of construction and operations phase contracts for Black and women-owned businesses.”
Joining Kaplan and Howze at today’s presentation were Janai Smith, the project’s M/WBE inclusion consultant and Managing Director of Pittsburgh-based eHoldings, and Justin Hough, Project Director for PJ Dick, the construction manager.
Contractors and Consultants Interested in MWBE contracting opportunities, please contact:
Janai Smith, Managing Director of Pittsburgh-based eHoldings
We've excited to announce that over $2 million worth of contracts have been completed with minority and women-owned businesses (M/WBE) in professional services. To complete the final stage of pre-development, the development team has fielded a diverse and locally inspired team of project consultants and vendors including:
The development team is working with eHoldings and construction manager PJ Dick to bid and complete tens of millions of dollars worth of construction contracts in phases across dozens of firms over the next 12 months. For a construction industry still reeling from the ongoing and deepening economic downturn related to the COVID-19 pandemic, this project represents a well timed stimulus.