The Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and Rainbow PUSH Coalition (RPC) have honored Don Biernacki, senior vice-president of construction at Related Midwest, as the 2017 Distinguished Labor Leader of the Year. The award, announced at the annual Rainbow PUSH Coalition International Convention, celebrates those who display an exemplary commitment to supporting communities in Chicago by providing local residents with valuable and sustainable job training and career opportunities.
“It’s a humbling honor to receive such a distinguished award from Rev. Jackson and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition,” Biernacki said in a statement. “I was raised to always have an open heart, an eye for fairness, and a drive for equality. At Related Midwest, it’s a privilege, and my purpose, to support local businesses and create real and sustainable job opportunities for residents so our communities can succeed.”
Related Midwest said in the news release that it is committed to collaborating with local, small, minority, and women-owned businesses to create job opportunities and foster growth in the communities that house its developments. ”
Whether working on an affordable, market-rate or mixed-income development, Related Midwest strives to hire local residents to support the economic growth and development of the community,” the news release said.
At Marshall Field Garden Apartment Homes, a 628-unit affordable housing community in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood that recently completed a major redevelopment, more than 25 percent of the full- and part-time positions were filled by local residents, including six apprenticeships with the Chicago Regional Council of Carpenters and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 134, the statement said.
“Major companies cannot turn a blind eye to the challenges plaguing the communities they work and live in,” said Calvin Jenkins, CEO of Community Playlots. “Don Biernacki has empowered me to turn my hardships into hope, and Related Midwest’s mentorship and guidance has enabled me to work on projects I never dreamt possible. With the experience and credibility that comes with working with Related Midwest, my business has been able to grow and thrive.”
Over the past four years, Related Midwest says it has awarded more than $61 million in contracts to small and local businesses ranging from landscaping to fencing to general construction. In addition to contracting with new and local minority- and women-owned businesses, Related Midwest also provides mentorship, business support and training to community entrepreneurs.