Friday, October 10, 2014

Beating the Odds

"What Makes Humboldt Construction Company Valuable to Bickerdike?  It promotes Bickerdike's economic development mission through guaranteed local hiring and use of local and minority-owned subcontractors."

Bob Brehm, "Keeping the Jobs in House." Shelterforce, Fall/Winter 2013/2014, 28-33.

My attempt at starting a nonprofit construction company in the 1970s/1980s counts as one of my early and biggest failures -- and one that has stayed with me for years.  Just up the road in another Chicago neighborhood, the opposite occurred, Humboldt Construction Company, started by Bickerdike, a housing and community development CDC. The temptation to start a construction company when you are already in the development biz is hard to resist. As Brehm recounts, it's about the jobs and who gets them. Unfortunately, there are more failures than successes.  The lessons from Humboldt and its success provide an inspiring yet cautionary tale of how to get it right for as long as you can.

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