Empowering Minority and Women-Owned Contractors: Western Massachusetts E-Contractor Academy Unveils Fall 2023 Curriculum

The Emerald Cities Collaborative (ECC), in partnership with the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) and the Western Mass Economic Development Council (EDC), is pleased to announce the launch of the Western Massachusetts E-Contractor Academy’s Fall 2023 curriculum. This innovative program aims to enhance the capacity of Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBEs) in climate-critical trades to actively participate in the green construction projects including building decarbonization and electrification efforts in Western Massachusetts. These trades include HVAC, electrical, plumbing, weatherization, asbestos mitigation, solar, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, battery storage, and grid-interconnected controls. This program is funded by a Massachusetts Clean Energy Center MWBE Support Implementation Grant.

The overarching objective of the E-Contractor Academy is to equip MWBEs with the business skills necessary to successfully compete and grow in this field. The program is designed to achieve the following key outcomes:

1. Improved Construction Industry-Specific Business Skills: Contractors will receive specialized training to improve their business acumen, adapt to changing market demands, and enhance overall profitability.

2. Increased supplier diversity in major procurement opportunities: Contractors will have the opportunity to network with other industry professionals regarding upcoming projects including major procuring entities we define as project pipeline partners (e.g., municipalities, institutions, statewide energy efficiency programs, large general contractors) who have access to significant and recurring construction project opportunities.

3. Creation of a Network of Back-Office Support Service Providers: Contractors will gain connections to a robust network of firms offering professional back-office support including but not limited to marketing, operations, accounting and finance support. Access to these services will support streamlined business operations and improved efficiencies.

4. Access to Funding and Technical Assistance: Contractors will receive training on financial literacy as it relates to access to capital and begin to build relationships with local financial institutions that are positioned to provide funding and technical guidance to participating contractors, fostering financial stability and growth.

5. Grant Opportunities for Program Graduates: E-Contractor Academy program graduates will be eligible to apply for grant funds that they can use to directly grow their business.

6. Measureable Revenue Increase: By empowering MWBEs with the necessary tools and opportunities, the program aims to significantly boost the revenue of participating MWBEs.

The Fall 2023 curriculum of the Western Massachusetts E-Contractor Academy promises a diverse range of sessions, workshops, and panel discussions aimed at addressing key aspects of business development and market access for MWBEs. The schedule includes topics such as opportunities in the residential and commercial green construction market, business strategy, marketing and communications, finance and access to capital, and more.

“We are fully committed to advancing clean energy and decarbonization in the construction industry, and the Western Massachusetts E-Contractor Academy provides us with the perfect platform to turn that
commitment into action,” said Rick Sullivan, President and CEO of the Western Mass Economic Development Council.

“We are excited to expand our E-Contractor Academy Program to serve Western Massachusetts where we are seeing a growing number of building decarbonization projects. Our on the ground experience working with women and people of color in the construction trades uniquely positions us to empower MWBE contractors to successfully compete in this market,” said Meishka Mitchell, President and CEO of Emerald Cities Collaborative.

“The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is excited to help provide a springboard to prosperity for businesses led by people who have been underrepresented in our region’s transition to a clean, sustainable economy. We are grateful for the unique opportunity to empower minority and women-owned businesses to make meaningful contributions to efforts to address the ongoing climate crisis while creating quality jobs for local residents,” said Kimberly Robinson, Executive Director of Pioneer Valley Planning Commission.

To learn more about the program or to register, visit Here!

About Emerald Cities Collaborative:
Emerald Cities Collaborative is a national non-profit organization dedicated to creating high-road, sustainable, just, and inclusive economies by pioneering a community-based approach to accelerate climate solutions.

About Pioneer Valley Planning Commission:
Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is the designated regional planning agency for the Pioneer Valley region in western Massachusetts, providing comprehensive planning services to its member communities.

About Economic Development Council of Western Massachusetts:
The Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council is a for-profit organization dedicated to fostering economic growth in the Western Massachusetts region. The Western Mass EDC collaborates with businesses, government entities, educational institutions, and community organizations to drive sustainable economic progress.