Related Midwest senior VP to headline one-day construction industry conference

construction industry conference

Organizers say Donald Biernacki, Related Midwest’s senior vice-president construction, will headline the 2019 Construction Industry Conference (CIC) with a “fireside chat” in Chicago on Oct. 23.

The event at the the Studio Movie Grill Theater, 210 W. 87th St., is a one-day forum “where small, diverse, and mid-sized construction, architectural, and engineering businesses learn about the Chicago region’s opportunities,” a conference statement says.
Biernacki oversees Related Midwest’s building and renovation projects, including “The 78” — a 62-acre, $7 billion development bordered by Clark Street, Roosevelt Road, 16th Street and the Chicago River. This mixed-use community will include residences, boutique retail options, curated restaurant offerings, cultural institutions and office space that will be home to major companies and organizations.

The region has more than $45 billion in public and private building and infrastructure construction projects in progress or in the planning stage. A key focus of this year’s conference is the identification and outlining of megaprojects that offer vast opportunities to the construction industry.

Under the title of “Opportunities Presentations,” project owners and contractors, Related Midwest, Clayco, Illinois Tollway, and Capital Development Board will independently host a 50-minute session where architects, engineers, and construction companies will learn how they can participate in these megaprojects.

Other speakers include:

  • Sandra Marks, senior vice-president of Clayco Construction;
  • Terry Miller, the new chief of diversity officer and strategic development for the Illinois Tollway with more than $8 billion remaining to spend on their Move Illinois project; and
  • JuanPablo Prieto, the director of diversity for the CTA who is heavily involved with the Red and Purple Modernization Program (RPM), which is the largest capital improvement project in CTA history.

One of the most crucial issues impacting the Chicago construction industry is the lack of tradesmen. “The Workforce Dilemma – Building Your Workforce For Tomorrow’s Opportunities” session — moderated by Peter Creticos,  president of the Institute for Work and the Economy — will discuss how companies can fill their pipeline of job opportunities while staying profitable.

The conference’s informational sessions led by subject matter experts include:

  • Teaming and Joint Venturing as a viable strategy to win construction projects;
  • Surety Bonding, an essential item in construction bidding;
  • “Access to Funding”, outlining a new program by the CTA to provide financial assistance for contractors as they undertake new projects; and
  • “How to Stay Out of (Or Get Out Of) Trouble With the IRS.”

Organizers say there will be networking opportunities and private engagement sessions (personal meetings) with Linn-Mathes Construction, Forest Preserve of Cook County, Public
Building Commission, Chicago Public Schools, and many of the other exhibitors.

CIC also brings contracting officers from city, state, county, and federal agencies to discuss procurement opportunities and prime contractors, like Pepper Construction, GMA Construction Group, William Charles Construction, Clayco, and FH Paschen, to discuss subcontracting opportunities.

More than 30 exhibitors will be on hand to discuss construction opportunities with their organizations including the Department of Aviation with its $8 billion O’Hare and Midway renovation project.

Joining the conference as VIP guests will be:

  • Jamie Rhee, the Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation, a staunch supporter of inclusion and diversity who has spent the better part of her career working to ensure that all firms get a real shot at receiving contracts; and
  • Michael Strautmanis, Chief Engagement Officer, the Obama Foundation, who oversees community affairs and strategic partnerships.

“The conference will help bridge the information gap and deliver valuable resources to these businesses,” said CIC founder Suzanne Stantley. “We’re overjoyed by the wealth of resources and experts who will be on hand to exchange insights and information with conference guests. It’s a demonstration of the depth of concern and interest they have in wanting to ensure diverse firms know about the opportunities available to them

“It’s a tremendous time for small and diverse firms to be in this region’s construction industry and my mission is to help ensure they get an opportunity to experience a bit of the American dream by building successful businesses that will provide greater opportunities for their families and the families of those individuals who work with and for them.”

Onsite registration opens at 9:00 am and runs until 2:30 pm or attendees can
register at


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