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Elevate begins second year supporting construction entrepreneurship

Gilbert Odonkor works hard to provide a path to success for Hennepin County construction businesses within Elevate Hennepin.

Elevate begins second year supporting construction entrepreneurship

As the construction season winds down in Hennepin County, leaders behind the Elevate Hennepin Construction opportunity are gearing up for their own busy season.

For the construction industry, the winter downtime is ideal to build systems, manage paperwork, and get and renew essential certifications. It was the cycle Gilbert Odonkor got used to in his construction business before he joined Hennepin County as the manager of construction procurement.

In his role at the county, however, he saw small businesses applying for programs and projects they either struggled to complete or were not qualified to do. He wanted to help, but it was impossible for him to take every phone call asking for advice or guidance.

He saw a lot of potential for the county to support these construction businesses; through certification, legal needs like understanding their contracts, and things like financing.

“Since I joined the county, that was the number one thing that I I've always desired,” said Odonkor. “Some kind of resource to help these contractors learn and improve their processes.”


Elevate Hennepin responds to market need

When Elevate Hennepin launched as a pandemic rescue effort in 2020, he saw a way to bring construction-industry expertise to the business-support platform and meet the needs in the Hennepin County business community.

Since adding construction-industry experts, dozens of construction companies have come to Elevate Hennepin for support to improve their business, optimize their processes and take on bigger projects. They found help with legal guidance, business assessment and development, construction accounting, and developed financial strategies to make their businesses more sustainable.

Those businesses also found a broad network of general business support to improve other aspects of their business from marketing and branding to strategic planning. Every Hennepin County business qualifies for up to 25 hours of no-cost advising from each of more than 30 expert consultants.

Now, when he sees a business that doesn’t meet the needs of a project, he can simply point them to Elevate Hennepin. Something he encourages his colleagues to do as well.

“If you see a contractor struggling with an aspect of their project, refer them to Elevate and let them sign up and get the necessary guidance,” said Odonkor.

Odonkor said this is an exceptional outcome for the county’s vision of a more inclusive business community by putting effort and funds into supporting small and minority-owned businesses. That, he said, is a direct outcome of the values of Hennepin County leadership.

“Hennepin County is a place where our leaders believe in diversity and inclusion, and they allow us to be creative in trying to solve problems. It starts with the Commissioners and County Administrator David Hough allowing this creative problem solving,” said Odonkor. “With their support, we’re truly walking the walk, not just talking about it.”

If your construction business could use support getting to the next level, explore Elevate Hennepin construction resources today. 

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