Thursday, December 11, 2008

Arena project near targets for minority, women participation

Wednesday, December 10, 2008
By Amy McConnell Schaarsmith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

As construction work on the new arena continues on schedule, representatives of the Penguins and the city-county Sports & Exhibition Authority say they have come close to reaching targets on minority hiring of contractors.

With targets of 25 percent minority-owned and 10 percent women-owned businesses for contractors at the site, project planners have been able to hire minority-owned businesses for an average of 24 percent of construction work and women-owned businesses for an average of 6.26 percent of that work.

In some trade areas, however, participation by minority- and women-owned businesses falls far short of the targets.

Meeting the targets is not always easy because of a scarcity of qualified, bonded businesses in some trade areas, said Clarence Curry, who monitors how well the authority is meeting its targets for minority participation.

The size of the contracts -- sometimes topping $30 million -- is keeping many minority- and women-owned businesses from a chance to bid on them.

"There are not a lot of minority-owned companies experienced with contracts of that size, but it's a chicken and egg situation," Mr. Curry said. "Past discrimination has limited their opportunities, so since they couldn't get the work, they're not experienced enough to get it now."

At the site, demolition is finished and retaining and foundation walls have been completed on the south side of the construction zone, according to developers. The first crane will arrive next week to begin building walls atop the foundation walls, while retaining and foundation walls are built on the north side of the site.

By the end of April, developers say they expect the arena's roof to be built and upper decks of seating to be under construction.

Meanwhile, developers say the deadline is Dec. 16 for bids to finish the building's interior with carpeting, window treatments and other furnishings. And the deadline is Dec. 19 for bids to build the arena's parking garage. The garage contract will be awarded in late January and construction should begin in April, according to developers.

Amy McConnell Schaarsmith can be reached at or 412-263-1122.
First published on December 10, 2008 at 12:00 am


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