Taylor Electric, a South Shore–based, black-owned electrical contracting firm founded in 1922, has grown significantly since it began working on UChicago construction projects. Kendra Dinkins, Taylor Electric president and CEO and the firm’s fourth-generation leader, says that part of the credit goes to the University. “I feel like the University is at the forefront of helping out minority contractors — our work there has put us on the map and enabled us to expand to do more kinds of work,” including projects at other schools and hospitals.
To ensure that firms like Taylor Electric get a fair shot at the economic opportunities offered by UChicago construction and renovation projects, the University and UChicago Medicine have set goals for the participation of minorities, women, and local residents. On each project, UChicago aims to employ 35 percent minority-owned contractors, 6 percent women-owned contractors, and 40 percent construction workers who live in the city of Chicago.
“As the University expands, our company expands, and there’s a high correlation — we’re not the only MWBE seeing more work coming down the pipeline.”
The benefits have been tangible for Dinkins’s company: Since Taylor Electric was one of more than 100 minority- and women-owned business enterprises (MWBEs) working on UChicago Medicine’s Center for Care and Discovery (CCD), its office staff has doubled in size and the number of its employees consistently working on projects has tripled.
“I’m a South Sider,” Dinkins says, “and fifty to sixty percent of our staff live on the South Side as well. It’s a point of pride: When I’m riding around with our project managers, they always point to the buildings we’ve done and talk about the impact on the community. People in the neighborhood see us working on a job and ask how they can get hired, so I work very closely with the union (IBEW) to recruit people for entry into their apprenticeship program.”