Skip to main content
female construction workers studying plans
  • Story
  • Inclusion

Helping Women- and Minority-Owned Business Enterprises Succeed

Seattle is one of the fastest-growing cities in America with real estate construction booming in all corners of the metropolitan landscape. Despite the upswing in large-scale real estate development projects, some subcontractor companies, including women- and minority-owned business enterprises, are unable to bid on projects because the full scope of work is often too large for their capacity.

To help include more women- and minority-owned business enterprises (WMBE) subcontractors, Vulcan Real Estate works with our general contractors to create bid packages that allow our project scopes to be broken into smaller portions. This maximizes the potential for local WMBE businesses to participate.

aerial view of Yesler in 2018
Aerial view of Yesler neighborhood. Photo by Andrew Buchanan.


A good example of how this approach works is demonstrated by Vulcan Real Estate’s agreement with the Seattle Housing Authority (SHA) to redevelop Yesler. In its agreement, SHA included specific goals around targeted affordability of units, the use of WMBEs, apprenticeship utilization, and green building requirements.

At Yesler, where Vulcan has just completed an apartment building called Batik and broken ground on a second project called Cypress, we adapted an Earthwork bid package scope, enabling subcontractors to break out trucking services from their base scope. As a result, we were able to target and draw bids from smaller, minority-owned trucking agencies. We hired a minority-owned company that not only helped us meet our budget but also enabled us to meet our goals for engaging more WMBE businesses.

people at Tabor 100 minority expo
Tabor 100’s minority business expo.

Tabor 100 Partnership

Another way we were able to meet our WMBE goals at Batik was through our partnership with Tabor 100 (a nonprofit committed to business development, economic empowerment, educational excellence and social equity for minorities and the community at large). We worked with Tabor 100 to host a minority business expo where vendors showcased products and services, and expanded their network for future opportunities. Through connections made at this expo, we awarded 22 percent of our Batik project contract value to WMBEs.

We’re also proud to say that we exceeded our apprenticeship utilization goal by more than twofold. We introduced subcontractors to apprentices at vocational schools throughout Seattle and held an apprentice meet-and-greet at Seattle Vocational Institute. Six students were offered jobs with subcontractors for Batik.

Did You Know

Vulcan successfully exceeded the 14% WMBE utilization goal at Batik, awarding 22% of the subcontract value to WMBEs. In addition, our apprenticeship utilization of 34% exceeded the 15% goal.

construction workers working
Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle at work at Jackson Apartments.

Central Area

Our agreement with the Seattle Housing Authority to build market rate apartments at Yesler, while adhering to goals around social equity and economic opportunity, inspired us to apply the same principles to other projects in neighboring communities, including the Central Area.

In 2018, we broke ground on a 532-unit multi-family residential project, Jackson Apartments, in the Central Area. Here, we are voluntarily targeting 14% WMBE participation and 15% apprenticeship participation. We are also working with the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle—a nonprofit organization focused on the empowerment of underserved communities through educational and economic opportunities. The program, inspired by the city’s Priority Hire Program, provides underrepresented communities and those from distressed ZIP codes with construction training on active jobsites.

Related Stories