In the late 1980s, the New York City/New Jersey metropolitan region's construction industry faced serious barriers to participation from small, minority- and women-owned businesses. At about the same time, state and local development agencies had embarked upon unprecedented numbers of capital development and infrastructure renewal projects which, to satify a Supreme Court order, required the participation women- and minority businesses owners to complete.
Community public agencies in New York and New Jersey responded to this inclusion requirement by adopting a new strategy, pioneered together with minority and women's business communities and corporate leaders. The resulting Regional Alliance for Small Contractors (RASC), is an alliance which provides targeted firms with comprehensive professional development training, taught by leaders in the construction industry. This six-week course includes sessions on corporate financing mechanisms like loan packaging, managerial and operational skill-development, and outreach and marketing strategies for better positioning to win construction contracts. RASC also serves public agencies seeking to improve the quality of their contractor pool.
By way of these educational offerings, RASC has composed a partnership of fifty-three public agencies, large construction firms, and hundreds of women and minority-owned businesses. Historically these groups have often had adversarial relationships which resulted in very few positive accomplishments and fewer instances of collaboration. Now, approximately half of the minority- and women-owned construction firms in the New York metropolitan area have participated in RASC's programs. Many of these firms have turned to play a key role in the economic development of minority communities by bringing money into the community and hiring minority workers.