Every time Jason Bonaparte drives by UChicago Medicine’s Center for Care and Discovery (CCD), he says, “I look up at that tall, shiny masterpiece and think: There’s my work.” Bonaparte’s electrical company, B3 Integrated Solutions (B3i), installed the fire alarm system on the CCD’s third and fourth floors — one of the University contracts that has helped his business grow since its founding in 2013.
From a company of one, B3i has grown into a company of 17 employees and $3 million in annual revenue from a wide range of clients. “Being a small, diverse company, it was tough for us to get into large medical facilities,” Bonaparte said, “but because of the University’s excellent program for minority contractors, we’ve worked on multiple projects on campus. That has led to great relationships with larger companies, who now hire us as a subcontractor.” In 2017, the University and UChicago Medicine set ambitious goals for increasing the participation of minorities, women, and local residents. On each project, UChicago aims to employ 35 percent minority-owned contractors, 6 percent women-owned contractors, and 40 percent construction workers who live in the city of Chicago.
“For many years, minorities were locked out of being able to work on large construction projects in the private sector because the relationships just weren’t there. It takes a good diversity program to make people step back and see that minority-owned businesses can perform just as well as non-minority contractors if given an opportunity.”
B3i’s first project at the University was a $150,000 subcontracting job at the Duchossois Center for Advanced Medicine. It went so well that the company was awarded the CCD contract, worth $800,000, and a number of additional contracts over the next several years. In all, B3i has completed 12 projects on campus — and because of the relationships Bonaparte has developed with larger firms, its employees have also worked on significant local projects like the Wintrust Arena and the Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont.