Speaking at the annual Rainbow PUSH Coalition Convention, Related Midwest senior vice president of construction, Don Biernacki, outlined the company’s vision for transforming the construction industry supply chain by connecting South and West Side residents. He announced a cross-industry partnership as part of the firm’s 62-acre mixed-use development, The 78.
“The 78 will be a multi-decade project, and we want it to be a turning point in the lives of many Chicago residents,” said Biernacki. “That’s why we have created the most advanced diversity and inclusion program in the history of Chicago’s construction industry—a cross-industry partnership that will help create sustainable careers and support business ventures for residents and local businesses across the region. I want to thank Reverend Jackson, Reverend Wilson and Omar Shareef for what they have done to help guide one of the biggest development projects in Chicago’s history.”
More details of the unprecedented partnership will be announced in the coming weeks, but Related Midwest plans to implement training and employment opportunities that invest in women- and minority-owned small businesses and identify career opportunities for youth and underrepresented populations. The goal is to create a more socially responsible approach to development in Chicago and the Midwest region.
Bordered by Roosevelt Road, Clark Street, 16th Street and the Chicago River, The 78 will connect the Loop to near-south communities—long segregated from the CBD by highways, the river and train lines. The master plan will transform the largest parcel of undeveloped land in downtown Chicago into a vibrant, unique, mixed-use community that will include residences, boutique retail options, curated restaurant offerings, cultural institutions and office space.
Plans also call for a University of Illinois-led Discovery Partners Institute (DPI), a world-class research and innovation center, to call the site home, serving as a major technology research hub that would attract talent from around the world. The site will feature more than 11 acres of publicly accessible green and open space, a new Red Line CTA station, protected bike lanes, walking paths and waterfront access. Construction on a Wells-Wentworth Connector is now underway.
In 2017, Biernacki was awarded the Distinguished Labor Leader of the Year by Rainbow PUSH for his dedication to community development and mentorship of small business owners. Over the past 10 years, Related Midwest and its affiliated entities have awarded more than a quarter of a billion dollars to minority- and women-owned businesses and hired nearly 500 community residents. The company has also helped 15 small businesses launch and grow by awarding them their first contracts.