Connecting Contractors with Diverse Advocacy Organizations

The Illinois Utilities Business Diversity Council (IUBDC) assembled the leaders of 75 prime contractor companies for the first –ever Prime Partner Institute last June at Nicor Gas in Naperville.  IUBDC representatives from Ameren Illinois, ComEd, Illinois American Water, Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas met with the participants to discuss ways to accelerate use of the Tier II contractors, increase diversity in state contracts, and promote balanced economic and community growth.  The event focused on four key topics:

  • Types of certified vendors
  • Identifying qualified Tier II contractors
  • Product and services needs
  • How IUBDC can help

Illinois State Senator of the 11th senate district, Martin Sandoval delivered an inspiring opening message to the prime contractors, sharing the economic benefits of developing a diverse supply chain and encouraging them to develop a plan to better utilize diverse subcontractors.  Afternoon work sessions centered on developing long-term approaches for balancing contracts that are outsourced and performed in-house, and balancing work with a variety of suppliers.  A critical focus area for the utility members’ Supplier Diversity team was to help identify and connect with diverse suppliers through continued education and awareness events that provide technical assistance to the MBE, WBE and VBEs.

Diverse suppliers and prime contractors from the Chicagoland area came together to participate in the IUBDC’s Phase III Institute, which took place in November at the new Peoples Gas Energy Training Center in Chicago.  The event was the third installment of an IUBDC series intended to educate and facilitate better connections between diverse suppliers looking for opportunities and prime contractors looking for job partners.  The Phase lll Institute focused on establishing consistent supplier reporting protocols for prime partners. Event participants heard from several speakers and joined discussions that centered on

  • Progress by prime contractors on mentoring strategies for subcontractors.
  • Effective feedback and performance standards.
  • Best practices being deployed by prime contractors to meet economic impact/job creation metrics.

Later, more than 50 diverse suppliers who participated in the day’s activities also enjoyed networking sessions that connected them with prime contractor decision-makers and utility leaders.

Post event evaluations indicated that participants received valuable insights that will help facilitate new buy/sell opportunities, along with useful information such as details on insurance requirements for building a supplier diversity program within their own companies.  To see photos from both events, please visit the Council Photo Gallery.


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