First Rebuild contract goes to Philly-based firm

Robert Bright, founder and president of Talson Solutions, poses with photos of the new third lock of the Panama Canal in his office in Philadelphia, PA on August 2, 2016. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer

The city will pay up to $424,000 to a Philadelphia-based construction-monitoring and consulting firm to help ensure minority participation in the rebuilding of parks and recreation centers.

Talson Solutions LLC, a minority-owned business that has worked on projects from the Comcast Center to the Panama Canal, will work to connect minority, female, and disabled business owners with professional support services to prepare them to apply for construction contracts.

The contract is the first awarded as part of the $500 million Rebuild initiative, which is expected to involve renovations at more than 150 parks, recreation centers, and libraries over the next six years or more.

The initiative, which Mayor Kenney has said would help diversify the city’s building trades, was approved last month by City Council after heated debate over implementation.

“Our goal is really to connect minority businesses to Rebuild projects and also use Rebuild as an opportunity to strengthen and grow their business so they’re more competitive,” said David Gould, deputy director of community engagement and communications for Rebuild.

The one-year contract with an option to renew, requires Talson to connect businesses to services from which they could benefit, such as assistance with accounting, bonding, and insurance.

The idea, Gould said, is that a small contracting business with three electricians might not currently be equipped to participate in big projects. Talson will build on the city’s existing database of minority, female, and disabled-owned businesses to match potential contractors with opportunities.

The city has committed to having 45 percent of workers on Rebuild sites be minorities, and 50 percent Philadelphia residents. A pre-apprenticeship program will employ about 30 people from low-income neighborhoods in the program’s first year.

Neither Talson nor the city will decide who gets the building contracts, Gould said. Nonprofits yet to be named will handle that selection process.

“This was built off things we’ve heard in terms of hurdles that have hindered smaller contractors from participating on larger construction projects,” Gould said. “We want to get them prepared to pursue and get work when the contracts become available.”

Gould said Talson would start doing outreach this summer. The company then would identify businesses for more targeted support work. Anyone hoping to get involved can sign up for a mailing list on Rebuild’s website.

Talson, a construction auditing, consulting, and project management firm, was founded in 2001 by its president, Robert S. Bright, a Wharton graduate, who lives in West Mount Airy. Bright, who was traveling Wednesday, did not respond to calls for comment.

Talson has done construction-monitoring work at Lincoln Financial Field, Citizens Bank Park, the Comcast Center, and the Freedom Tower in Lower Manhattan. The firm also worked on the $5.2 billion Panama Canal expansion project.

The company — which also has locations in Atlanta, New York, and Panama — is named for Bright’s children, Taylor and Jason.

Gould said the city’s Rebuild staff of six is too small to handle the work itself.

“Talson is a very qualified firm,” Gould said. “This allows us to work with a reputable large entity without adding permanent staff.”

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