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Build Houston. April/May

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In business, as in life, working with a partner accomplishes much more than working alone as long as a common goal is shared. For evidence of this, we need only to look at the team of Koasati Construction Management (Koasati) and the City of Houston’s Office of Business Opportunity (OBO). Koasati Construction Management is a Houston-based, certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) that specializes in Program/Construction Management. Owned by a Native American Tribe, rather than an individual, the minority certification process for Koasati proved to be a challenge, however, where some see a challenge, others see an opportunity.

“The City’s OBO genuinely cares for the minority business community.” says Koasati President, Craig Williams. “During the certification process, they took the time to listen and evaluate our ownership structure, which is a little unique. They became a true partner in the sense that they didn’t look for a way to disqualify us from the certification program, but rather they looked for a way to make sure we got the recognition we deserve.”

“Hearing from other certifying entities that ‘You qualify but our process doesn’t allow us to certify you’ was very disheartening,” adds John Alvarez, Koasati’s Executive Vice President. “The OBO’s reaction was completely different. They said, ‘You qualify. Now let’s figure out how to get you certified.’ That was so refreshing after all that we had been through.”

City of Houston, OBO Director, Carlecia Wright agrees. “The Office of Business Opportunity provides a variety of certifications, our team of experts looks for innovative ways to work with business owners and Koasati was no different for us. We are pleased that we were able to certify them and that they are going above and beyond to include other certified firms in their participation plans.”

According to the latest City Construction Disparity Study, Native American-owned firms accounted for less than 1.5% of total dollars awarded and/or paid for construction contracts at the City; the lowest of all minority-owned businesses during the period analyzed. Not only does Koasati plan to help better that statistic, they plan to help other MWSBE firms as well.

As a prime contracting entity with bonding capacity rarely seen within the minority business community, Koasati Construction Management is well positioned within the market to be a leading advocate for minority contractors. Promoting the utilization of other MWSBE firms is woven into the fabric of the culture at Koasati Construction Management. In fact, Koasati recently submitted a bid to renovate a parking garage at George Bush Intercontinental Airport utilizing 74% MWSBE-certified firms as subcontractors; more than tripling the MWSBE participation goal for the project.

The common goal that ties Koasati Construction Management and the City’s Office of Business Opportunity together is their commitment to advancing the utilization of MWSBE firms wherever possible. “Native American culture is, in general, extremely family oriented. We look out for each other,” Williams says proudly. “At Koasati Construction Management, we carry that cultural aspect to our business practice. In this case, our family consists of our fellow MWSBE firms.” Learn more at www.koasaticm.com.

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