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Fayette County Public Schools, Commerce Lexington promote ‘Building Intentional Partnerships’

Nearly 75 professionals recently gathered for an informational and networking session called “Building Intentional Partnerships,” sponsored by Fayette County Public Schools and Commerce Lexington.

“We want resource partners to meet businesses and for all of us to start working together and forming relationships,” said Marilyn Clark, manager of the district’s office of Economic Development & Supplier Diversity.

“It’s really about opportunities for growing or sustaining businesses out there,” added Tyrone Tyra, senior vice president and head of Community & Minority Business Development for Commerce Lexington, which hosted the event.

The evening featured a panel of individuals whose companies collaborate in various capacities, including representatives from Gray Construction (Randall Vaughn), Facility Maintenance & Services Group (Frank Hall), Lexington Contracting (Allen Carter), D.W. Wilburn (Josh Sword), Element Design (Ramona Fry), and EOP Architects (Paul Ochenkoski).

“‘Minority’ is a title given based on the situation and climate we live in,” Hall noted. “What Randall did was calm the water and encourage me, but I had to make that journey. Since then, I’ve developed a great relationship with Randall.”

Carter also credited FCPS for helping to level the playing field. “One of the big things that’s changed in the last five years, now it’s an open field for minority contractors who have experience to come in and do the work,” he said.

Fry, who with three colleagues formed their own company of landscape architects and civil engineers several years ago, agreed. “We’ll take any foot in the door, but we’ll show you we’ll do the absolute best job we can,” she said.

Clark thanked all the participants for their willingness to find common threads and support one another. “At the end of the day, everyone’s looking for quality work — done on time — with the least amount of hassle,” she said. “The relationships help you get in the door to do the work we know you can do.”

FCPS launched its supplier diversity initiative in 2011. School board policy, diversity contract forms, regional surveys, and aggregate goals keep the work on track.

“As you grow your revenue stream and hire more workers, you pay more taxes and we can build more schools. It all goes around and comes around,” Clark told the crowd. She also mentioned how Fayette’s student demographics have shifted in the past few years, noting, “Your future workforce is going to be diverse.”

After the panelists’ remarks, Melinda Joseph-Dezarn, director of Facility Design & Construction in FCPS, briefly highlighted the District Facilities Plan, a list of priorities that shows the Kentucky Department of Education and lawmakers the scope of needs across the state.

Among current projects are updates at several schools to ensure secure vestibules, major renovations at the former Imani church property on Georgetown Road, and the upcoming construction of a new Tates Creek High School.

“Essentially, we’re always trying to look ahead,” Joseph-Dezarn said. “We’re constantly working and moving, and we look for folks that do have experience with school projects because the paperwork with KDE is its own special animal.”

Myron Thompson, the district’s chief operating officer, also emphasized that FCPS pursues top-quality educational facilities to prepare students to excel in a global society.

“Hopefully we’ll make some connections and see some of you folks participating in these projects,” Thompson told the group of professionals. “We help you, you employ our graduates, and it’s cyclical.”

From Fayette County Public Schools

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