THE ISSUE: A newly-formed construction and trade alliance aims to put jobs in the hands of area contractors. THE IMPACT: By employing local contractors, the city’s economy will benefit through local spending and employment.
Organizers of Pine Bluff Rising’s new construction and trade alliance are hailing the bidding results of a local project at Dollarway High School in which local workers won a majority of the bids.
Fifteen alliance members won contracts on the project, which will replace the football field surface, renovate the homestand and press box and update the field house, among other improvements. The project is estimated to cost between $700,000 and $800,000.
General contractor East Harding Construction broke the project into nine “1st tier” contracts, such as electrical work, roofing and landscaping. Six alliance members won 1st tier bids, while nine won “2nd tier” contracts to assist 1st tier contractors.
Ryan Watley is the chief executive officer of Go Forward Pine Bluff and a former board member of Pine Bluff Rising. Pine Bluff is made up of a group of citizens and investors whose goal is to boost the city’s economy and improve infrastructure.
“The results of the Dollarway Project highlights the importance of the [contractors] Alliance,” Watley wrote in an email. “Successful completion of these projects will work toward building.”
Watley added that the alliance has been in contact with CDI Contractors, the general contractor that won the bid for the city’s aquatic center project, about using local contractors on that project as well.
Foster Richardson II, co-owner of Richardson Diversified Services with his father, Allen Richardson II, was one of the local alliance members to successfully bid on the Dollarway project. Under their contract, the father and son duo will replace a metal awning at the field house, install new lockers and flooring in the locker room and renovate the press box. Richardson said the contract is for $20,000.
Membership in the alliance “helped out a lot” in securing the bid, Richardson said.
“We were the first ones that [the general contractor] called to tell that they were having a project over at Dollarway,” Richardson said. “They said anytime they’re having a project in Pine Bluff, they said they’ll call anyone that’s on the alliance first.”
Another local contractor who secured work on the Dollarway project through the alliance is landscaper Wyvonne McDonald. McDonald’s business, Wyvonne and Sons Lawn Service, employs eight people and provides services that include lawn maintenance and landscaping, such as installing shrubbery and flower beds and grading dirt.
McDonald will be assisting another Pine Bluff alliance member, Design One Contracting LLC, in replacing the Dollarway football field.
He called the alliance “really great for Pine Bluff.”
“We’ll actually begin to get some of the high-end jobs,” he said. “Because we’ve got some people here that are capable of doing the high-end jobs. So I’m really grateful.”
While McDonald said his business is thriving without the alliance’s help, he is seeing more job offers on the market through the alliance, and access to higher-end jobs.
Trey Bohannan, owner of Design One, said he likes the teaching aspect of the alliance. His company has 10 full-time employees and provides services that include landscaping, selling trees from their nursery and erosion control on the side of highways. Keeping business in Jefferson County can really help, he said.
“The alliance, it’s not just about the big companies,” Bohannan said. “It’s about trying to help the smaller companies and teach them. And in my opinion, that’s the main purpose of the alliance, is helping others.”
General contractors such as CDI and East Harding have pledged to train local contractors on the details of acquiring insurance and bidding for larger contracts, for example. The lessons have already begun.
“If you were familiar with regular residential electricity, they’re getting you familiar with electricity on a bigger [commercial project] scale,” Richardson said. “Or if it requires plumbing. Whatever you’re trying to do, there’s a lot of people that’s trying to help you out in the alliance.”