December 27, 2018
Blog

Community Engagement Team Helps Local Small Businesses Thrive

As part of Clark's commitment to creating opportunities for local communities, the company has deployed resources that help bolster small businesses and strengthen the local workforce. The Western Region Community Engagement Team is part of a national network of employees furthering Clark's commitment to building a better community. 

Viki and her team guides entrepreneurs through the
complex maze of small business qualifications

The team embodies Clark’s passion for economic development and community building and is made up of a group of people who love what they do: Viki Bamba, Prentiss Jackson, and Christopher Bardales lead Clark's efforts in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest, while Ken Billups, Erik Belmarez, and Molly Huddleston are responsible for Southern California.  

While exceeding small and minority business subcontracting and hiring commitments is one of their main goals, the overarching mission of this team is to build relationships that spark economic growth and opportunity for the entire community.

In San Francisco and Seattle, Viki and Christopher spearhead programs designed to connect with small and emerging businesses and create training opportunities for underserved residents. Viki and her team go above and beyond, guiding entrepreneurs through the complex maze of small business qualifications and ensuring they get the credentials they need to bid on new work. 

Chase Center Training Program Graduation Ceremony

Prentiss currently works at the Chase Center, ensuring maximum participation of small businesses and local workers. Among other things, he helps coordinate the Chase Center Training Program, an initiative that provides intensive job-readiness training, hailed by local civic leaders as a pathway to sustainable careers in the construction industry.

In Southern California, Ken and Erik cast a wide net throughout the region by organizing outreach events to promote inclusivity, engaging with local organizations, and assisting project teams through small business and local workforce monitoring. They also play a critical role when it comes to the pursuit of work: conducting project-specific outreach events and identifying the right trade partners for the job. 

Clark's Strategic Parnership Program (SPP)

Another vital component to Clark’s alliance with small business is the Strategic Partnership Program (SPP), an MBA-style program developed by Clark for small business owners. Molly has administered the SPP since it debuted in Southern California in 2011. “I've formed a really tight bond with each participant who has gone through the program— it’s hard not to. After spending ten months in the program, they become part of the Clark family,” says Molly. The program—which has expanded to San Francisco and Seattle—has graduated more than 180 business owners on the west coast, with more than $250 million in contracts awarded among them. 

When asked what they hope to accomplish in the future, Ken says he wants to expand their efforts throughout the Western Region and solidify Clark’s reputation as the preferred contractor to our trade partners, as well as our clients. Erik adds, “I’d like to see more workers on our projects sponsored by our trade partners. It’s a great feeling when you see people hired as a result of our outreach efforts.