Chair Kafoury shares plans to increase workforce diversity in capital projects

June 24, 2016

Chair Kafoury speaks at OAME’s “Coffee and Issues” event as OAME Founder and Chair Sam Brooks (right) and Multnomah County Purchasing Manager Brian Smith (left) look on.

Early Friday morning, Chair Deborah Kafoury met with a large group of Portland area business owners, entrepreneurs and contractors at the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs for the monthly meeting, “Coffee and Issues.”

Kafoury shared her admiration for the organization as well as the intentional work that the county is doing to empower minority business owners through the Sellwood Bridge Project, the new Central Courthouse, the Gladys McCoy Health Department Headquarters and other important county capital projects.

When the Sellwood Bridge Project wraps up this fall, the county’s general contractor will be on track to meet the goal of awarding 20 percentage of subcontracts “to minority, women, and emerging small business contractors,” Kafoury said.

The county is also taking the first steps toward a Project Labor Agreement on the Central Courthouse Project “which will put in place standards that will make sure that the project takes into account our community’s values and increases opportunity for MWESB firms.

“It is the county’s responsibility on all of our public projects,” said Kafoury, “to have a workforce that reflects the diversity of our community.”

She also discussed the county’s efforts to decrease homelessness, highlighting the formation of the Joint Office of Homelessness between Multnomah County and the City of Portland and $47 million in new resources for affordable housing, new shelter beds and homeless services.

Following her remarks, county staff presented information on the various capital projects currently underway, including more in-depth information on the Sellwood Bridge, the courthouse and the health headquarters. This meeting allowed community members to get information about the projects and the opportunities available, as well as offer feedback.

“The overall goal,” says Lee Fleming, supplier diversity officer for the county, “was to provide yet another opportunity for small disadvantaged, underutilized firms to have access to our key project managers and key personnel on these projects...and to also force our project teams out of the usual mode of operation of depending on their self-generated lists of what many of these large firms refer to as their list of qualified firms.”

Kafoury assured the OAME audience that the county is committed to increasing workforce diversity on capital projects moving forward.