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Paving the Way

Paving The Way is an initiative spearheaded by the Southwest Detroit Business Association (SDBA), with key partners Tiffany Hart (Sphinx Consulting) and Congress of Communities. . Started in 2015, Paving The Way helps increase economic opportunities and racial equity in the public contracting process by preparing local contractors and residents to obtain jobs and economic benefits from major infrastructure projects in Detroit. This program is funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


Among 263 residents engaged in the direct job placement track in 2017:

  • 139 secured a job, earning average hourly rate of $13.03
  • Of these 139 people, 121 were still employed after 6 months

Among 121 companies engaged in 2017:

  • 4 became DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) certified
  • 1 became MDOT (Michigan Department of Transportation) Prequalified
  • 16 graduated from the USDOT (U.S Department of Transportation) Bonding and Education Program (BEP)

Program Model

Paving The Way has developed an entirely new model that has never been done before. This model has three components, which are helping to achieve the initiative’s intended outcomes to increase eligibility and participation of Detroit-based residents and DBEs in local construction projects as well as influence system-level changes for racial equity in the industry’s policies and practices.


  • Work directly with USDOT, MDOT, and the Partnership for Diversity and Opportunity in Transportation (PDOT)
  • Attend industry-related conferences and events

Racial Equity

  • Raise awareness of systematic racism and reduce discriminatory practices in the industry


  • Build relationships with leading prime contractors in the industry via PDOT and industry events


  • Replicate new industry-led and industry driven model with interested primes


  • Word of mouth


  • Host workforce development intake sessions


  • if barriers: refer to external resources and partners
  • if eligible: enroll and assign to a track

Training & Jobs

  • Track 1: Job placement
  • Track 2: Pre-apprenticeship
  • Track 3: Apprenticeship
  • Track 4: Entrepreneurship & Business Development


  • Follow up with BEP graduates and engage new contractors


  • Determine barriers to bid on infrastructure projects
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