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Mass. State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry seeks inclusion in MCCA expansion legislation

Yawu Miller | 10/10/2013, 6 a.m.
State Rep. Linda Dorcena Forry is pushing legislation that would require the Mass Convention Center Authority to hire and contract with Boston residents, minorities and women during its planned $1 billion expansion project. Photo by Yawu Miller

The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority filed legislation last week that would pave the way for a million-square-foot expansion of the South Boston facility aimed at increasing meeting and exhibition space there by 60 percent.

State Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry wants to make sure that Boston residents, minorities and women have a fair shot at obtaining jobs, contracts and a cut of the business generated by the expansion, which is projected to cost more than $1 billion.

Forry inserted measures into the CCA’s legislation ensuring that minority- and women- owned business enterprises get a share of the contracts and that minority and women workers are employed in the design and construction of the new space.

“It’s about job access and job equity,” Dorcena Forry said.

The legislation directs the CCA’s to establish a supplier diversity program “designed and implemented to achieve meaningful participation on the part of minority business enterprises and women [-owned] business enterprises in all phases of the management and oversight, design and construction of the BCEC expansion.”

It further instructs the CCA to establish a workforce diversity program that brings in minorities, women and Boston residents in the design and construction of the expanded facility and provide them access to training in the building trades.

Additionally, the legislation calls for a supplier diversity program that would ensure that minority-owned businesses have the opportunity to bid for contracts to supply the convention center with goods and services.

The legislation also calls for the CCA to issue quarterly reports on workforce participation by minorities, women and Boston residents.

“We want to look at the data and make sure they’re meeting benchmarks for minority business enterprises and women [-owned] business enterprises and Boston -resident participation,” Dorcena Forry said.

The legislation establishes a group called the Access and Opportunity Committee, which will meet periodically to review compliance with the minority, women and Boston resident goals. Members of the committee will include the Massachusetts Minority Contractors Association, the District 2 City Councilor Bill Linehan, State Rep. Nick Collins and Dorcena Forry.

Dorcena Forry said she discussed her proposed changes to the legislation with Convention Center Authority Executive Director Jim Rooney before inserting the language in the legislation.

“Jim Rooney gets it,” she said. “He was fine with it.”

She also consulted with state Rep. Nick Collins, whose South Boston district includes the convention center.

“This is important because there are large companies developing projects in our city,” Dorcena Forry said. “We want their workforce to represent the diversity in our city.”

The legislation gives the convention center the green light to move forward with renovations that will add to the existing structure 1.3 million square feet of exhibit and meeting space and a second ballroom.

The expansion will be funded with bonding and the CCA’s funds. The authority is expected to seek public funding to subsidize the construction of an adjacent hotel complex with up to 1,500 rooms.

Construction on the project is projected to begin in 2015.