Clark Construction’s Strategic Partnership Program is making a positive impact on Southern California’s small business community

This year, nearly 30 small, minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses in Southern California are investing in their futures and opening the door to new opportunities through their participation in Clark’s Strategic Partnership Program (SPP). The executive education program provides participants with comprehensive business and construction management skills training to increase their business acumen, prepare them to pursue future opportunities, and realize smart, sustainable growth.

Clark developed the MBA-style course in conjunction with Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business with the goal of building capacity within the small business community. Approaching its 15th year, the program is positively impacting small business communities in seven cities across the country, including Los Angeles, Irvine, San Francisco, Washington, DC, Seattle, Chicago, and Kansas City. Since its  debut, the program has served as a springboard for more than 700 small businesses, of which more than 150 are based in Southern California.

The intensive training program is offered free to small business participants and features a comprehensive curriculum designed to give students a solid foundation for transformative growth. Clark’s building professionals shepherd the program in each city and work alongside outside industry experts to lead in-depth discussions on topics such as finance and accounting, insurance and bonding, project management, contracts, estimating, and purchasing, as well as general business competencies, such as networking and presentation skills. The curriculum is also supplemented by special workshops, extended learning opportunities and a culminating capstone project. In addition to business and project management competencies, SPP underscores the importance of teamwork and forming strategic relationships to strengthen competitive advantage.
Bianca Vobecky, founder and president of Los Angeles county-based Vobecky Enterprises is among an esteemed group of small business owners who have completed Clark’s Los Angeles/Orange County Strategic Partnership Program. Vobecky’s company was ranked seventh among the fastest growing private companies by the Los Angeles Business Journal in 2017.

“Before the program, we had problems with bonding, estimating and only felt comfortable bidding on smaller jobs,” said Vobecky. “Since graduating from SPP, we’ve had the confidence to go after bigger projects. Our bonding has increased, our revenue has doubled.”

While completing the program does not guarantee participants a contract on a Clark project, the class positions small businesses for the next big opportunity. Today, scores of graduates are leveraging the important lessons they learned during the program to be more successful in their approach to winning new work.

“It is extremely rewarding to watch graduates leverage the knowledge and skills they’ve gained through the Strategic Partnership Program to be much better positioned for success,” noted Kwaku Gyabaah, Clark vice president who helped launch the program in Southern California. “It is even more exciting when a graduate is successful in securing work on a Clark project.”

To date, Clark has awarded over a $1 billion in contracts to SPP alumni; a number that continues to rise.

Small business owners aren’t the only individuals who appreciate the impact of the Strategic Partnership Program. Officials from Los Angeles to Washington, DC have been proponents of the program and the value it brings to the greater community. In a letter penned to last year’s graduates, current LA City Council Member and former LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas shared, “this program serves as the national leader in increasing the diversity and representation of small business owners by investing in minority-owned, women-owned, and veteran-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. The program is poised to impact the growth of diverse businesses for years to come.”

Information for this article was provided by Clark Construction.

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