Insight
Empowering Communities Through Sports Facility Construction
set the standardsfor workforce inclusivity & diversity

With sports construction projects operating under the spotlight and attracting high visibility, franchise and venue owners recognize the opportunity to promote inclusivity and community growth. Together with their stadium builder, owners can set the industry standards for community involvement and workforce diversity.

Community empowerment is an initiative Mortenson proudly prioritizes with every sports facility construction project. These initiatives focus on strengthening the local economy and ensuring the people who work on a project reflect the surrounding community.

While community reports for these programs often highlight statistics, it’s important to understand that community empowerment isn’t about “checking boxes.” The goal is to address systemic barriers that prevent people and businesses from gaining the opportunities and economic self-sufficiency they deserve.  

Giving Underrepresented People and Businesses a Seat at the Table

An effective community empowerment plan advances equity and levels the playing field by maximizing opportunities for diverse-owned businesses and workers. What’s more, engaging with younger generations, especially BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) youth, and encouraging them to explore construction and engineering career opportunities helps build a more robust and inclusive construction industry.

These simple actions help promote equity in the construction industry:

  • Collaborate with local contracting organizations, workforce development groups, apprenticeship programs, local union representatives, and other local partners to recruit businesses and workers from underrepresented groups
  • Provide meaningful employment opportunities to local residents, with an emphasis on women and people of color
  • Create accessible avenues for participation. For example, placing employment application drop-boxes on the project site makes applying accessible for those without a home computer or internet access

Access and Opportunity

The success of individuals and businesses is all about creating access and opportunity. 

Strategies to help execute an effective sports community involvement plan include: 

  • Engage in authentic relationships with diverse firms and create opportunities that help business owners build their capacity and capabilities
  • Hold informational sessions for diverse business owners to provide timely and relevant information regarding project opportunities
  • Help diverse businesses gain access to  educational, training, and networking opportunities
  • Provide professional development opportunities for individuals such as soft skills, OSHA, and other construction-specific topics
  • Collaborate with workforce development partners, apprenticeship programs, and local union representatives to increase recruitment for all trades

Building Stronger Communities

Sports community involvement develops relationships with local organizations and gets people excited about a new sports venue. Many of the workers on a project live in the neighborhood—they frequent local businesses and send their children to area schools. Instead of viewing the project as something happening in their neighborhood, it shows the project team cares about the people and makes them feel good about building a new sports venue in their community.

Some ways to implement corporate community involvement:

  • Food drives in support of local organizations serving the surrounding community
  • Supply drives for local schools and community centers
  • Improvement projects like building a community garden, updating a school’s playground equipment, or small home projects for elderly or low-income residents

Partnering to Create an Individualized Community Empowerment Plan

Mortenson’s values are deeply rooted in doing the right thing and inspiring others to believe that together, everything is possible. Each corporate community involvement initiative begins with a conversation to understand community partners’ concerns and priorities. Ownership is also asked about their interests and priorities regarding the role of a stadium in their community. After gathering this information, a successful plan comes together.

Climate Pledge Arena, Seattle, WA 

Renovating an arena during a pandemic was a challenge in itself, but Seattle and other U.S. cities were also dealing with economic uncertainty and events triggered by social injustices. For these reasons, Climate Pledge Arena’s project team prioritized hiring residents in economically distressed areas and making careers in construction more accessible for those with social and economic disadvantages.

Forty-six diverse businesses received contracts to work on the project. Recruiting apprentice level and journey level workers presented opportunities for individuals to gain valuable sports construction experience. Individuals hired to work on the project also benefitted from training, career advancement opportunities, and a job paying a living wage with benefits.

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I’m gaining confidence every day, I love my career choice.

Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV 

Allegiant Stadium’s project team prioritized local engagement, providing meaningful employment opportunities for people of color, women, and veterans in the community. Apprenticeships and internships were another focus area, with a goal of reigniting interest in local construction jobs.

Local businesses represented 70% of contracts awarded and over 200 businesses categorized as Small Business Enterprises (SBE) and/or Women and Minority Business Enterprises (WMBE) worked on the project. Money was put back into the Las Vegas community and small and disadvantaged businesses gained meaningful experience working on a large-scale, big-budget project setting them up for future success.

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Not only did I gain exposure to the engineering field, but I was able to network with a variety of engineers from diverse backgrounds. They made me feel important and part of the team.

GEODIS Park, Nashville, TN 

With its location in a historic part of Nashville, the GEODIS Park project team knew community participation was especially important. The goal was to strengthen the local economy by partnering with small and women/minority-owned businesses, along with providing job opportunities for women and people of color.

Local workers represented 31% of the workforce. Additionally,  81 of the businesses contracted were categorized as small and/or women-owned or minority-owned businesses. Different people and businesses were highlighted each month during the project to emphasize the critical role they played in making the stadium build a success.

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Every small/women-owned business strives to be a part of a project of this capacity. Watching this project evolve from an old parking lot to what it is becoming today...I will be honored and proud to say that we were a part of this project.

Empowering People and Communities

Together, owners and sports stadium builders can make a lasting impact on people and communities. See how community empowerment has transformed the people, businesses, and communities involved in Mortenson stadium construction projects.