Chicago Small Businesses Ready to Grow

April 15, 2015

CHICAGO – Increased opportunities await the graduating class of Clark's inaugural Chicago Strategic Partnership Program (SPP). Sixteen small business owners and executives completed the 20-week program, which provided comprehensive training on the development, management, growth, and transformation of their respective companies in the construction industry.

The graduates' efforts were recognized during a ceremony at the University Club in February. Clark Chicago's SPP Co-Director Javid Aboutorabi, along with Senior Vice President David Trolian and City of Chicago Director of Public Affairs, Cathy Kwiatkowski, spoke at the event, congratulating the graduates and encouraging them to grow their businesses and take on projects of increased size and scope. Representatives from the City Colleges of Chicago, Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), Cook County, University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC), and the Hispanic-American Construction Association (HACIA) attended the ceremony and networked with the program graduates.

Developed in 2006 by Clark, in coordination with the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, the Strategic Partnership Program is an intensive, executive MBA-style program consisting of weekly courses that offer the tools and strategies for small business owners to build capacity, identify opportunities, and succeed in today's competitive construction environment. Clark employees and industry experts work with program participants to review the fundamentals of project management, marketing and business development, estimating, purchasing, scheduling, basic accounting and financial reporting, bonding and insurance requirements, safe work practices, and how to read and understand blueprints. The program culminates with a capstone project requiring teams of students to submit a comprehensive response to and bid for a Request for Proposal and presentation to a team of Clark executives.

"The program was very beneficial and instructive to me. I graduated with my Construction Management degree and I can tell you that there is nothing better than having experienced personnel from the field teaching the courses," said program graduate Marco A. Romero, President of iBuilders Corp. "Through this Strategic Partnership Program, I have grown as a leader in my company. With the help of my mentor and this program, I've put to practice what we have been learning.

Since its inception, more than 350 small business owners and executives have completed the Strategic Partnership Program. The graduates' companies have been awarded nearly 500 contracts on Clark projects, totaling $664 million. The Strategic Partnership Program is currently offered in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Southern California, Washington, D.C., and on major Clark jobsites across the country.