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GHP “Pays it Forward” with Support for Skilled Workforce through C3 [VIDEO]

Last month the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) unveiled their stunning new space in Partnership Tower which will serve as a meeting place for heads of state, senior business leaders from around the world, and others who visit to learn more about the greater Houston area.  The construction of the space was achieved using the principles of the Construction Career Collaborative (C3), ensuring that the work was completed by the most highly valued craft professionals in commercial construction and that the resulting work was of the highest quality and delivered with the best safety performance.

I wrote about the beautiful new space which I had the privilege to see for myself at a reception held for the media.  That evening I spoke with a few members of the Partnership about what the beautiful new facility would be used for as well as their decision to support the skilled craft workforce by using C3 principles on the project.

Patrick Jankowski is Senior Vice President Research and Regional Economist at GHP.  He was happy to share his enthusiasm for how the new facility would benefit the Houston region.  He repeated the Partnership’s concept of the space as a “front door” for Houston through which visitors could be introduced to the best of what the region has to offer.  He said that the Partnership wanted a place to host visitors which better reflected the “Houston of today” than their previous facility.  As an example of the important types of visitors which would be welcomed into the new space, he shared that a delegation from Belgium which includes a member of their royal family is planning a visit in December.  He said:

“We want them to see the best part of Houston.  They’ll see it first by seeing our building and then they will see it next by stepping out on our balcony and seeing Discovery Green and the George R. Brown and seeing what a nice place Houston is.  It leaves a good impression of Houston when they come to a space like this.”

I also spoke with Lilyanne McClean, the Partnership’s Executive Vice President Public Policy and Communications.  She and other Partnership members spent time during the build-out getting to know the skilled craft professionals who worked on the project.  She shared how at the beginning of the project, the workers wanted to know what the Partnership did for Houston and what the new space they were building would be used for.  When they learned about the importance of the new space, their pride in their professions and in their roles on the project soared.  McClean said, “The workers walked into the project with an enormous sense of pride as if after they realized the potential good this space could have for Houston and how important their quality craftsmanship would be to the work of the GHP.”

I asked why the decision was made to build the space using the principles of the Construction Career Collaborative.  McClean said, “Because it just made sense; it made perfect sense.”  It was something that Peter Beard had learned about through his work with UpSkill Houston.  He brought the idea to the Partnership right after they had signed the lease for the new space and before they had even chosen an architect.  McClean:

“We sat down as a team and we said, ‘If we are going to build this building, we are going to build it the right way.’

McClean told me that the requirement to build using the C3 principles was included in the specifications, or specs, for the project.  They hired D.E. Harvey Builders, a C3 Accredited Employer, as the General Contractor, who then in turn hired C3 subcontractors to help complete the project.  In fact, McClean said that in the book that they made (a book chronicling the project’s craft professionals through photos and interviews titled Who Built It?), several of the workers “talked about the C3 project and principles.”  She said the other thing that amazed her was the experience level of the craft professionals, many of which had been practicing their crafts for 15 to 20 years.  She mentioned one father and son who both worked on this project who did all of the detail work with the very heavy glass.

Peter Beard, Senior Vice President Regional Workforce Development at the Greater Houston Partnership, shared several thoughts about the Partnership Tower project with me.  I have transcribed them in their entirety and included them in the video at the end of this post.  Beard:

“It’s wonderful.  Part of the reason we built out this space was to be a ‘front door’ to Houston so that when diplomats, business leaders, and politicians are coming to visit and see Houston, this would be their first experience.  In understanding Houston as a global city, they would get to see pictures and views of our city through the windows.  We have a video Instagram wall that shares the robustness of Houston, and that’s really what we wanted to do: have this place be a place where folks come together and see Houston and be a part of our business community.

One of the things that is critically important when we are trying to attract business into Houston is businesses having access to a qualified and skilled workforce.  As part of that we work in a program called UpSkill Houston to really help seven sectors develop their workforces so that we have a competitive economy, [and] that we are growing our citizens so that they have good jobs and have a middle-class life.  Part of that really is ‘How are we supporting workforce development?’ – which is really the third part of the story of this building.

“We use C3 as part of our principles in terms of ensuring that our general contractor and our subcontractors were subscribing to the principles of C3 which include safety training, a commitment by those employers to ensure that they are developing their own workforce through skills training of their workforce, and finally ensuring that workers are paid appropriately on W2’s with overtime.  Those are critically important principles as an organization that is readying a workforce and trying to attract folks into it based on our workforce.  We wanted to live out our principles by actually having this space built out while supporting developing that workforce.

“It was just amazing to see the pride in the workers as they were building, knowing what they were building here – that this was part of our “Front Door.”  One of the great things was being able to support that: seeing the pride and seeing their commitment – the quality and the craftsmanship that they put into the building.  We experienced it in our observation in terms of the dedication that those craft workers had putting this all together.  We really appreciate them.

“One things we did was we interviewed the craft workers to hear their stories about what they liked about the building, their favorite views, what they liked to do in their spare time.  We also took pictures – we are beginning to build out a collection of those stories that we will be able to share with folks about the people who built this building.”

You can listen to all three of the above interviews in the 6-minute video below.