From the “KC Built. KC Pride.” banners to the backdrop of the downtown skyline to the sprinkle of reps wearing Love KC shirts, Burns & McDonnell portrayed itself as the true hometown team during its KCI announcement Tuesday morning.
The firm revealed 20 locally owned and operated businesses that it will take on as partners for its single-terminal KCI proposal. On top of that, partners reminded the crowd that the solution started locally and should be carried out in the same manner.
“We saw a unique Kansas City problem and we knew that Washington D.C. wasn’t going to solve the problem. Jeff City wasn’t going to solve the problem,” Pat Dujakovich, president of the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, said. “We knew we needed a Kansas City solution to this problem. Burns & McDonnell came and presented an idea that is unique and challenging, but at the end of the day is a huge success to all of us.”
Just a few months ago, Burns & McDonnell presented a plan to design and contruct a new KCI terminal. Weeks later, a California based company, AECOM, also showed interest, leading the city council to open the bidding process.
Proposals are due July 27, with a selection expected to happen shortly after. However, the project still needs to be approved by voters in November and some have consistently resisted the single terminal idea.
Despite the mixed feedback, Burns & McDonnell Senior Vice President Ron Coker announced that the company moved their start date up a year, to Nov. 8: the day after the vote.
JE Dunn President Gordon Lansford said the project would bring together businesses for a common cause.
“Many of us on this stage typically compete for work in this town. If you look at all these trucks you won’t normally see them on the same site,” Lansford said. “Building a new KCI is not about competing, it's about collaborating.”
Coker made it clear that more partners would likely be brought on in the future.
“If your business isn’t on this stage, that doesn’t mean anything, except you’re not on this stage today,” Coker said. “There are going to be hundreds of partners on this project.”
Many partners spoke to the project’s inclusion of more minority and women-owned companies as well as displaced and young workers.
Companies that have worked with Burns & McDonnell before, such as Dubois Contracting, attested to the company’s larger vision of local progress.
“They have invested not just in the projects, but in the team members and the firm owners on those projects,” Dubois Contracting founder and CEO Ajamu Webster said. “They create opportunities for us to learn to grow to scale. And as a person bear witness of that, I can tell you that after working with Burns & McDonnell over the past few years, my firm has more than doubled in size.”
Lexi Churchill is a news intern for KCUR 89.3.