July 30th, 2021
Nationwide Arena project shows mentoring matters
Back in the late ’90s, Tidwell was hired to help recruit minority- and women-owned contractors on the Nationwide Arena project. She said they achieved autilization rate of about 17%, and that didn’t even include construction management services and construction of the parking garage.
After the venue opened in 2000, Nationwide executives, government officials and minority businesses celebrated at the King Arts Complex.
“It was precedent-setting,” said Tidwell, 73. “Because it was so celebrated, we thought we would see that (diversity) continue to happen, but the industry didn’t really repeat that very much. And we had a recession. A lot of people went out of business. It just hasn’t been a lot of success until I worked on the Columbus Metropolitan Library projects.”
Tidwell helped the library system exceed its diversity and inclusion goals on its 2020 Vision project, which included construction and renovation of multiple branches.
Those past accomplishments informed the Crew project, Tidwell said. The city set a 30% utilization rate of MWBE contractors. Upon completion, it achieved 25% for the stadium and 34% for the training facility.
The rate was admirable but really high, Tidwell said. There has to be a better support system to prepare minority- and women-owned contractors that have been excluded for so long. That means facilitating mentorship opportunities between prime and subcontractors, so the subcontractors eventually can become primes.
“We have to do the work that creates that kind of growth,” she said.