New Detroit developer and Capital Impact participant takes lead in growing skilled trades workforce
When Alisha M. Moss, CEO of VM3 Construction, brought her construction business to Detroit, she knew it would be a challenge. First, she is a minority, woman, small-business owner – but more importantly, she understood that there is a shortage of qualified skilled trades workers in the city of Detroit.
“I knew before I even got started, that once the work started coming in, I would have a problem getting the skilled labor workforce that is needed,” said Moss. “So, I decided to build my own pipeline. It requires going to look where many will not because it takes investment in time and resources—there is no ready-now pool just hidden away waiting to be discovered.”
As an emerging developer, Moss acknowledges that every other developer in the city is having the same struggle obtaining consistent access to construction labor at rates that support development financial performance.
“If we cannot control construction labor costs, developments will stall and our neighborhoods will continue to suffer awaiting meaningful investment and reactivation,” said Moss.
To shape a more inclusive growth strategy for Detroit, VM3 partners with the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation (DESC) and many other workforce development and youth training organizations. VM3 recently kicked off the first of many career fairs to provide a continuous supply of qualified Detroit-resident candidates for construction jobs in the city, not only for VM3, but also for VM3’s strategic partners and an entire subcontractor network which is comprised of mainly Detroit-based and minority and women-owned firms. The fair highlighted opportunities for contractors and developers to take on new hires out of DESC’s pre-apprenticeship training programs with subsidies to help during on-the-job training periods. VM3’s workforce development strategy targets groups historically overlooked and highly underutilized by construction – including veterans, returning citizens, youth, women, unemployed and mid-career changers.
Moss is one of seven, out of 130 applicants, who was selected for intense mentorship by Capital Impact’s Equitable Development Initiative. The initiative is specifically designed to see more minority real estate developers in a space that has historically been occupied by the majority.
“This labor crisis is national and it is heightened in our region as the Detroit market is building at twice the rate as the balance of the country. This rate is forecasted to continue through the decade so we have time to course correct,” says Moss.
VM3 represents a new age of construction management, and intends to drive a maximum impact strategy into neighborhood development through a combination of:
World class construction delivery methods,
Identifying and prequalifying small, local, minority contractors,
Partnering with leading workforce development agencies, pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship training programs, and
Connecting graduates immediately with real-world career opportunities.
VM3 leverages over 80 combined years of mixed industry Fortune 100 corporate capital procurement, finance, tax, project management, and training/facilitation and business process experience to become trusted advisers within the heart of our clients’ organizations.