Illinois Tech Receives MacArthur Foundation Grant to Establish Minority Contractors Technical Assistance Center

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Chicago, IL — September 20, 2017 —

The Center for Research and Service (CRS) at Illinois Institute of Technology has established the Minority Contractors Technical Assistance Center (MCTAC) and received a $350,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation to study what obstacles minority contractors in the state of Illinois face when attempting to acquire large, publicly funded construction contracts. CRS is one of the country's premier, university-based research and consulting services firms.

The grant covers 15 months of research that will focus on how contractors are chosen to receive municipal construction projects. George M. Langlois, executive director of CRS, is the principal investigator of the study, with Jayne Jackson serving as the project manager.

Despite city and county ordinances and state laws mandating minority participation in government contracts —at least 26 percent participation for Chicago, 24 percent for Cook County, and 24 percent for the state of Illinois—minority contractors only receive a small fraction of government contracts. In addition, agencies awarding contracts have inconsistent methods of tracking their progress toward reaching minimum participation rates.

The MCTAC research team will survey minority contracting firms, large private-contracting firms, and governmental agencies to identify the specific problems that minority contractors and subcontractors may face that prevent them from bidding, winning bids, and being hired for municipal projects at the city, county, and state level. The data collected will then be used to propose programs to overcome the identified barriers that prevent minority contractors from receiving more contracts.

“This research, in addition to addressing obstacles for minority contractors, has the potential to provide the real career opportunities and economic development for historically disadvantaged populations,” explains Langlois. “What we learn could help our high schools and junior colleges develop or supplement curricula for those students seeking careers in the construction trades.”

The impetus for this grant was originally conceived by Paul King, founder and retired CEO of UBM Construction company and longtime construction industry activist, and later developed by Illinois Tech’s former Vice President for Community Affairs Leroy Kennedy.

About the Center for Research and Service

Established in 1996, the Center for Research and Service at Illinois Institute of Technology is one of the country’s premier, university-based research and consulting services firms. Housed within the Department of Psychology at Illinois Tech’s Lewis College of Human Sciences, the center provides meaningful solutions, strategies, and metrics to assist clients in assessing, developing, and leveraging the potential of their employees while supporting and educating advanced graduate students to deliver high-quality professional services.

About Illinois Institute of Technology

Illinois Institute of Technology, also known as Illinois Tech, is a private, technology-focused, research university, located in Chicago, offering undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, science, architecture, business, design, human sciences, applied technology, and law. One of 21 institutions that comprise the Association of Independent Technological Universities (AITU), Illinois Tech offers exceptional preparation for professions that require technological sophistication, an innovative mindset, and an entrepreneurial spirit.