Developers, general contractors, unions launch workplace development, small business support program

Hire360 launch
The Hire360 launch on Dec. 9

Chicago’s largest developers and general contractors, in partnership with local labor unions and the United Way, have announced the launch of HIRE360, described as an innovative, cross-industry partnership designed to provide sustainable career opportunities for local residents and support women- and minority-owned businesses across the region.

HIRE360 will enable greater access to employment opportunities for community residents in manufacturing, construction, hospitality and professional services through services such as recruiting, training and placement assistance for those looking for jobs and upgrading the skills of the currently employed. It will also provide continuing education and skills training for those currently employed.

HIRE360’s mission is to expand employment opportunities through recruiting, training and placement assistance; invest capital in helping minority- and women-owned businesses grow and thrive; connect area youth, underrepresented populations and local residents with job inspiration and opportunities; and model socially responsible hiring and supply chain accountability in Chicago and beyond.

Starting on Dec. 9, HIRE360 will provide resources for candidates interested in pursuing work in the building trades. These include test preparation and assistance; money to buy boots, books and tools for apprenticeships; case management services; referrals to jobs; and support throughout the apprenticeship process. For Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) firms, it will be adding mentoring and a loan pool to help firms grow. Early next year, HIRE360 will expand beyond the construction industry to offer job services in the manufacturing and hospitality sectors.

“HIRE360 is a 360-degree vision for community-connected employment and business opportunities,” said Don Biernacki, HIRE360 board chair and senior vice-president of construction at Related Midwest. “For Related Midwest, HIRE360 serves as an extension of our work for the last 30 years to invest in local residents and small businesses so we’re thrilled to collaborate with members of the contracting, labor and developer ecosystem in this effort to build an economic engine that maximizes Chicago’s potential.”

“For years, labor unions and the development industry have worked to increase diversity in the trades through one-off, unconnected programs. We haven’t made the progress we need,” Charise Williams, HIRE360 board member and Chicago Federation of Labor director of external affairs, said in the statement. “HIRE360 changes that by bringing together business and labor to create a pathway for underrepresented communities to access these jobs and the support needed to thrive in them.”

Through localized mentorship, direct investment and specialized services, HIRE360 will strengthen the participation of underrepresented populations in the Chicago area. Hire360 will also mentor and grow MBE and WBE firms and create a supply chain of partners that are accountable to higher participation standards.

The partnership’s first initiative was the August launch of a fund offering lines of credit to help women- and minority-owned businesses better compete for construction work. The fund also guarantees capital for firms that have been previously left behind.

hire360 logo

“Our industry, and our city, is stronger when we come together to address barriers to entry and help pave the way for the next generation of builders,” said Michael Meagher, president of McHugh Construction, vice-president of the Chicagoland Associated General Contractors and HIRE360 board member. “With the commitment each of our partners brings to this project, there’s no limit to how many people and organizations we can support.”

“The most powerful legacy that Sterling Bay and its fellow leaders in the building industry can create is one that empowers the industry leaders of tomorrow,” said Andy Gloor, chief executive officer of Sterling Bay. “HIRE360 embodies a collaborative spirit and universal commitment to providing vital resources and opportunities to minority- and women-owned businesses for participation in large-scale developments taking place across the City. Sterling Bay is extremely pleased to be a part of this innovative, equity-building partnership.”

“This partnership will expand opportunities for both new and existing trade workers, connect businesses with the diverse talent that exists in Chicago, and help train the workforce with the skills they need to get the job done,” said Ralph Affrunti, president of the Chicago & Cook County Building and Construction Trades Council. “HIRE360 is aimed at giving every community, every business and every worker in Chicago a fair shot.”

“Ensuring that the individuals and families who live in our neighborhoods can thrive is crucial to the success of Chicago businesses and, ultimately, the entire region,” said Sean Garrett, president and CEO of United Way of Metro Chicago. “With HIRE360, we’ll be able to leverage the expertise of our 200 community partners as we work together to increase the number of south and west side residents who have access to living-wage jobs.”

At the helm of HIRE360 is Jay Rowell, who was recruited for the role after spearheading the creation of the cross-industry partnership. Previously, Rowell ran Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s re-election campaign. Prior to that, he was the deputy treasurer of Illinois, overseeing the state’s $31 billion investment portfolio, where he focused on increasing investments by minority- and women-owned firms. Rowell also served as the director of Illinois Department of Employment Security where he created a no-cost HR recruiting program that helped thousands of people get jobs.

For more information and a full list of HIRE360 partners, visit


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