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NorthSide Regeneration Announces Winners of 6th Annual Project Design Challenge

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Team from Metro Academic and Classical High School Named Gold Winner

St. Louis Developer Paul McKee, Jr. and his NorthSide Regeneration development have named Team 6 from Metro Academic and Classical High School as the Gold Winners of their 6thAnnual Project Design Challenge. Team 4 from McKinley Classical Leadership Academy was named the Silver Winner and Team 3 from St. Mary’s High School received the Bronze award. The winners were announced during an awards ceremony on April 29 at the Engineers’ Club of St. Louis.

Six teams representing four St. Louis City high schools (St. Mary’s High School, McKinley Classical Leadership Academy, Metro Academic and Classical High School and Vashon High School) participated in this year’s competition, which challenged students to design an interactive urban park within the NorthSide Regeneration development. Design elements that were to be incorporated into every team’s submission included a variety of sundials, a passive solar food concession building with indoor and outdoor seating, appropriate plant species to enhance the site all year round, water features, a history walk and an amphitheater.

For two students on the winning team, this was the second year that they participated in the challenge, and now one of them is planning on studying architecture at the University of Kansas and the other plans to study mechanical engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

“This is exactly the goal of our city-wide, high school challenge – to expose more youth to the fields of architecture, engineering and construction,” said McKee. “Year after year, the students surpass our expectations, coming up with innovative ideas and uses for new products and technology in their plans.”

The design challenge was open to any student attending high school within St. Louis City, including public, charter, private and parochial schools. Teams, which could include up to six students, were required to register for the challenge by Jan. 18, 2019.

Participating teams were required to submit a project description between 300-500 words explaining their design theory and solution by the April 5, 2019 submission deadline. Each team also submitted no more than three poster boards showing an aerial location for the park, a site plan, enlarged details/and or elevations and an optional perspective drawing. A 3-D model of each team’s design was also required.

On April 13, 2019, each team orally presented their project, then answered questions before a jury of individuals in the fields of architecture, engineering and construction, plus neighborhood liaisons and representatives of NorthSide Regeneration. This year’s judges included: Michael B. Kennedy, Jr., CEO of KAI Enterprises; Donald N. Koster III, Senior Lecturer at Washington University and Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, and Design Practice Leader at Arcturis; William Laskowsky, Chief Development Officer at M Property Services; Paul McKee, Jr., Chairman of M Property Services and owner of NorthSide Regeneration; David Suttle, Design for Architecture Interiors and Planning; Ramona Tumblin-Rucker, Director of Construction Management at M Property Services; Paul Whitson, Regional Leader of Healthcare at HOK; and Chris Wilson, Project Manager at Cole.

“Our thanks to everyone who helped with this project design competition, especially the teachers and mentors who guided and encouraged the students throughout the design process. We could not have been more impressed with all of the students’ creativity and excellent work,” said McKee. “Thanks to everyone who participated and helped to make this year’s challenge another success.”

To date, over 300 students representing nine St. Louis City High Schools, and over 50 mentors have participated in NorthSide Regeneration’s Project Design Challenge. Past challenges have included, “Planning for the Autonomous Vehicle”, “Neighborhood Entry Marker”, “Urban Park”, “Neighborhood Streetscape” and “Parking Lot of the 21st Century”. The challenge is coordinated every year by Karen Bahr, Executive Assistant at M Property Services.

About NorthSide Regeneration St. Louis

NorthSide Regeneration (NSR) is a mixed-use community development – a self-sustaining neighborhood of people, cultures, economic opportunity, safety and education with the infrastructure and growth to support key, necessary services for the community. The original development encompasses over 1,500 acres and borders downtown St. Louis. Jobs have always been the primary motivator for NSR with a goal of more than 43,000 construction jobs and 22,000 permanent jobs generated by the development’s activity. For more information about NorthSide Regeneration, visit


Photo Above The 1st Place Team winning Gold from Metro Academic and Classical High School. Front row kneeling from left: Shuying Wu and Anezka Gocova (mentors from Forum Studio). Back row pictured from left: Cindy Ton, presenter Michael Kennedy, Jr., Jordan Young, Ruben Wagner, Brian Beffa, Michael Kaley and teacher Ms. Victoria Turner.

Electrical Connection Donates Services Farmington Pet Adoption Center

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As the only no-kill pet adoption shelter serving six counties just south of St. Louis, the Farmington Pet Adoption Center receives anywhere from 15 to 20 abandoned and unwanted pets a month.  It finds homes for about 150 dogs and cats a year.  But providing lifesaving care and treatment for unwanted pets from such a large geographic area was becoming more challenging in the aging building sheltering the animals.

“The heating and cooling system in the shelter was outdated, inefficient and costly,” said Jim Bilhorn, Farmington Pet Adoption Center volunteer.  “We had a plan to modernize the system with two heat pumps, but it required major improvements to our electrical infrastructure that we just couldn’t afford.”  Then, Bilhorn met Lee Asher, business representative for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1.

“A lot of our IBEW workforce and retirees live in the Farmington area and were familiar with the long history of Farmington Pet Adoption Center,” said Asher.  “I contacted IBEW Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs and we came up with a plan to leverage our Electrical Connection labor-management partnership to help.”  The Electrical Connection is a partnership of IBEW and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

Mobilizing a local IBEW team consisting of retirees Wyman Nash and Kevin Pettus and journeyman wireman Mike Gilliam, Matt Psalmonds, Chris Pipkin and apprentice Nick Haney, the Electrical Connection donated 50 hours of service upgrading wiring and circuits to support the heat pumps.  Joining in the volunteer effort was Farmington-based NECA contractor Meier Electric Co.

“The IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection partnership provided an extraordinary community service to the Farmington Pet Adoption Center,” said Bilhorn. “It was a significant electrical upgrade and we have the peace of mind knowing that the IBEW/NECA team delivered all the installations in accordance with the National Electrical Code.”

The donated electrical services allow Bilhorn to focus on other operational improvements through a year-long $30,000 fundraising campaign.  The adoption center is primary funded through donations and its Second Chance Resale Store.  To donate to the pet adoption center visit

“No matter what the economic conditions, the need to care for and find homes for abandoned and unwanted pets never ends,” noted Bilhorn.  Bilhorn says they often find pets dropped off anonymously at their door.  Sometimes it’s a stray that was found or a litter of puppies that a pet owner simply could not take care of.  “Things happen in people’s lives – they lose their job, they get older and infirm or become incapacitated in some way – and they simply don’t have the ability to care for their pets.  That’s what we’re here for.”

The Electrical Connection has been supporting the Farmington community for more than 25 years.  It is best known for its annual donation to the Farmington “Shop with a Cop” program.  The partnership has donated more than $65,000 to the holiday giving program since 1993.

Electrical Connection members provide safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world.  For more information visit

ASA Midwest Council Celebrates Mad Hatter Gala Winners on April 6, 2019

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The American Subcontractors Association (ASA) Midwest Council announced the winners of its Mad Hatter Awards Gala, April 6th. ASA Midwest Council hosted 422 people, at the Four Seasons Hotel in Downtown St. Louis, for the 26th annual event. The award categories included General Contractor of the Year, Outstanding MEP Subcontractors, Outstanding Specialty Subcontractors, and Service Provider/Supplier of the Year. The ASA Legacy Award, and GC Field & Office Employees of the Year, were also recognized at the gala. The ASA Midwest Council awarded special safety awards to qualifying ASA members who have achieved work safety excellence in 2018.

2019 General Contractor of the Year

Category A – BSI Constructors, Inc.

Category B – Kozeny-Wagner

Category C – BEX Construction Services

2019 Outstanding MEP Subcontractor

Category A – Guarantee Electrical

Category B – Kaemmerlen Electric

2019 Outstanding Specialty Subcontractor

Category A – Flooring Systems, Inc.

Category B – AME Constructors

2019 Service Provider/Supplier of the Year – J D Kutter

ASA Legacy Award – Joe Hoette, Hoette Concrete Construction

GC Field Employee of the Year – Terry Meyer, BSI Constructors, Inc.

GC Office Employee of the Year – Alex Sherfy, Musick Construction

2018 ASA Safety Cup – George McDonnell & Sons

2018 Safety Award Winners

Division I – Murphy Company

Division II – Vee-Jay Cement Co.

Division III – Bell Electrical Contractors

Division IV – Hayden Wrecking Corp.

Division V – Drilling Service Co. Division VI – Pipe and Duct Systems, LLC

“I would like to congratulate this year’s award winners and thank everyone for their continued support for the ASA-Midwest Council and the St. Louis area subcontractors,” said ASA-Midwest Council President Jennifer Church , with United Rentals. ” Our nominees and winners are an extraordinary example of what is possible when a project team works together towards their common goal.” “Our awards Gala is all about celebrating excellence in the St. Louis construction industry, and I am truly honored to be serving as president of the ASA Midwest Council this year.”

General contractors were nominated based on bid ethics practice, equitable contract/purchase order provisions, safety policy and practices, payment practices, jobsite supervision, scheduling coordination, subcontractor/vendor relations and administrative procedures/paperwork. Sub-contractors were judged on bid ethics and practice, safety policy and practices, jobsite supervision, communication, scheduling coordination, project relations, administrative procedures/paperwork and quality workmanship. The vendor/suppliers were nominated based on pricing consistency, equitable contract/purchase order provisions, accessibility, timeliness of service/delivery, customer relations and administrative procedures.

The general contractor and subcontractor categories were divided into sub-categories based on sales volume. ASA members nominated and cast votes for the general contractor and service provider/ supplier awards. Past nominees and previous general contractor award winners submitted nominations for the subcontractor categories, which were voted on by previous general contractor winners.

The American Subcontractors Association (ASA) Midwest Council is a construction trade association made up of quality specialty contractors and suppliers serving the construction industry and the community in the greater St. Louis metropolitan area and southern Illinois, for the past 52 years.

The Midwest Council’s purpose is to improve the construction process through active participation in education, advocacy and cooperation. For more information about the ASA

First Visuals of Future St. Louis NGA Campus Revealed by Corps of Engineers, McCarthy

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The first renderings of what the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s future St. Louis headquarters will look like were made public April 9 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the NGA.

Renderings from the newly selected joint venture construction team of McCarthy HITT show the look of the Next NGA West campus, to be located on a 97-acre site in the St. Louis Place neighborhood at Jefferson and Cass avenues in north St. Louis.

Estimates by the Corps indicate that as many as 1,300 workers per day will be on site daily at the massive construction project’s peak in 2022. The Corps also estimates that approximately 5,000 construction jobs will be created during the 5-year overall project, which is scheduled to begin in early 2020. Main campus construction is expected to reach completion in 2023, with the entire project anticipated to wrap up in 2025.

McCarthy HITT was announced March 19 as the winning joint venture selected to build the agency’s new headquarters. McCarthy HITT’s contract of $711.7 million – part of approximately $1.7 billion in total – includes construction of the NGA’s main campus in St. Louis.

“McCarthy is pleased to have been selected, along with our partners (HITT, Black & Veatch Gensler JV and Akima, LLC) to build the NGA’s new state-of-the-art campus,” said Jeffery Boyer, vice president of operations for McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. and project executive for the McCarthy Hitt team. “As the largest federal investment project in St. Louis history, it is expected to have a tremendous regional impact in terms of expanding jobs, promoting economic development and strengthening our local community. Throughout the project we’ll be working closely with NGA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as well as many teams of trade partners, community organizations and others.”

Next NGA West is the largest federal investment in St. Louis history.

Electrical Connection Sponsors (and Brightens!) the St. Louis Cardinals

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The St. Louis Cardinals launched its 2019 season with the Electrical Connection as a major sponsor, one whose members also brightened Busch Stadium.  The IBEW/NECA partnership is seen throughout the stadium on ribbon boards, the giant outfield video board and the Electrical Connection sponsorship of the starting line up at the start of every home game.  It also remains a fixture at Ford Plaza, where the Cardinals have an educational display on its solar panels installed by the IBEW/NECA team.           On the broadcast side, the Electrical Connections sponsors the Cardinals on KMOX Radio and on Fox Sports Midwest.

The Electrical Connection’s presence is also seen on cloudy days and during night games through major improvements made to stadium lighting.  NECA contractor Sachs Electric and IBEW made the upgrades with new LED lighting that include dynamic theatrical effects.  The new stadium lighting improves the fan experience, whether watching the game at Busch or at home on television.  It is not only more cost efficient, but casts a higher quality light to better match day game illumination. See the time-lapse video of the IBEW/NECA installations and the video of the lights in operation.  Sachs and IBEW made a number of other electrical improvements at the stadium.

On the communications side, IBEW worked with Sachs Systems on a variety of improvements.  They include upgrades to the digital antennae system (DAS) to improve cell phone reception, new security and camera systems and improved WiFi.  Another NECA contractor, TSI Global Companies, also worked with IBEW on communications upgrades.

The Electrical Connection is also partnering with the St. Louis Cardinals on a to-be-announced STEM Education Day at Busch Stadium to salute 22 St. Charles County high school students who excel in STEM subjects.  The students were honored earlier on March 1, 2019 when the Electrical Connection co-sponsored the annual STEM Celebration Breakfast presented by EDC Business & Community Partners in St. Charles County.  Other Electrical Connection partnerships with the Cardinals are planned later in the year.

The Electrical Connection is a partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).  Members provide safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world.  For more information visit

Missouri Contractor Installed as AGC President at National Convention

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L to R: two representatives from Willis Towers Watson; ScottGreen, Tracy Hart, Josh Fisk and Sandra Rotty - all of Tarlton Corporation; and Eddie Stewart, president of AGC of America.

Missouri AGC Chapter Captures Coast-to-Coast Attention with National Awards

More than 100 Missouri contractors and staff from the Associated General Contractors of Missouri returned home after a momentous week at the Associated General Contractors of America national convention in Denver, April 1-4.

Two of their own assumed national leadership roles in the 26,000-member organization, member companies throughout the state took home national awards, and AGCMO was recognized with special chapter awards for diversity & inclusion, and for community service.

Dirk Elsperman

Dirk Elsperman, executive vice president, COO of St. Louis-based Tarlton Corp., was installed as 2019-20 president of the AGC of America’s board of directors on April 4. Kyle Phillips, vice president of Herzog Contracting Corp., based in St. Joseph, MO, also assumed the role of vice chair of the Highway Division at the AGCA convention.

Commenting on the appointments, Len Toenjes, CAE, AGCMO president, said, “We are so proud of our members and the national leadership roles they are assuming for our industry.  They will be helping to guide our industry’s initiatives on federal policy,

regulations, transportation funding, workforce development, diversity and safety, just to name a few. This is a huge commitment of time and energy for both Dirk and Kyle, and it’s wonderful to see both of them called upon to help guide the future of our industry.”

AGCMO member companies also were recognized nationally for safety excellence and specific construction projects, outstanding contributions to political action efforts, and diversity and inclusion.  The AGCMO chapter also received special awards for leadership in diversity & inclusion, and for community service and outreach.

Two companies took home awards in the 20th Annual Willis Towers Watson Construction Safety Excellence AWARDS (CSEA), elite awards that recognize companies that have developed and implemented premier safety and loss prevention programs and showcases companies that have achieved continuous improvements and maintenance of their safety and health management systems. HNTB Companies, with offices in Kansas City, MO, captured First Place in the Service Provider & Supplier Division  (over one million work hours) and Jefferson City, MO – based Twehous Excavating Co., Inc. was awarded First Place in the Heavy Division (under 200,000 work hours).

Tarlton JLT Build America Award (L to R) two representatives from Willis Towers Watson; ScottGreen, Tracy Hart, Josh Fisk and Sandra Rotty – all of Tarlton Corporation; and Eddie Stewart, president of AGC of America.

The JLT Build America Awards honor AGC members who build the nation’s most impressive construction projects ranging across the building, highway and transportation, utility infrastructure, and federal and heavy divisions. These projects, with their vision, scope, and grandeur, literally dare to challenge, dare to change the industry and the way we build.  Tarlton Corp. was a winner for the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Stephen and Peter Sachs Museum in the Building Under $10 million – Renovation category.  Herzog Contracting Corp. was recognized with a Merit Award in the Design-Build Civil category for the Sunrail Commuter Rail System in Orlando, FL.

Special AGCMO Member Recognition Awards went to John Alberici of St. Louis-based Alberici Constructors, Inc. for 40 years of contributions to the 535 Club (the highest PAC level). Al Landes of Herzog Contracting Corp. also was honored for 25 years of contributions to the 535 Club.

Frank Wilson with Eddie Stewart, president of AGC of America. Far right is Kim Waller, Willis Towers Watson.

Each year, the AGC president is given power to bestow special awards at his/her discretion.  This year, Eddie Stewart, president of AGCA, recognized Frank Wilson of St. Louis-based BFW Contracting LLC with a Chairman of the Year Award for service, leadership and dedication to the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

Chapter Diversity & Inclusion Award (L to R) Len Toenjes, AGCMO; Frank Wilson, BFW Contracting LLC; Monica Bailey, McCarthy Building Companies; Steve Lewis, AGCMO; Eddie Stewart, President, AGC of America; Becky Spurgeon, Interface Construction Corporation; Bill Wagner, S. M. Wilson & Co.; and, Kim Waller, Willis Towers Watson.

The AGCMO chapter also received a Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Award for being champions in advancing diversity and fostering a culture of inclusion within their workforce, supply chain and in the communities they serve.   The award was accepted by Steve Lewis, vice-president and Len Toenjes, president, AGCMO; Frank Wilson, BFW Contracting LLC; and Monica Bailey, McCarthy Building Companies; Becky Spurgeon, Interface Construction Corp.; and Bill Wagner, S. M. Wilson & Co. – all from the St. Louis area.

Special Chapter Recognition for Special Olympics for Life
L to R: Michael Anderson, chair, AGC Charities; Len Toenjes, AGCMO; Chip Jones, Emery Sapp & Sons, Inc.; Bill Wagner, S. M. Wilson & Co.; Ed Twehous, Twehous Excavating Co., Inc.; and, Eddie Stewart, president of AGC of America.

AGCMO also received a Special Recognition Award for Special Olympics Training for Life Campus in Jefferson City, MO.  The award was accepted by Len Toenjes; Chip Jones, AGCMO chairman of the board, Emery Sapp & Sons, Inc.; Bill Wagner, S.M. Wilson & Co.; and Ed Twehous, Twehous Excavating Co., Inc. (Emery Sapp & Sons, Inc. and Twehous Excavating Co., Inc. are both located in mid-Missouri while S.M. Wilson & Co. is located in St. Louis.)

“We couldn’t be more elated,” added Toenjes.  “It’s very rewarding to see the outreach and charitable work of our member companies recognized on a national level.  AGCMO has demonstrated national leadership and excellence on a number of levels, and is setting an example nationwide, for building a more diverse workforce and supply chain for the future. I am very proud of everything our members have accomplished.”

The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is the leading association for the construction industry. AGC represents more than 26,000 firms, including over 6,500 of America’s leading general contractors, and over 9,000 specialty-contracting firms. More than 10,500 service providers and suppliers are also associated with AGC, all through a nationwide network of chapters.                                                                       

The Associated General Contractors of Missouri is the leading voice of the construction industry in Missouri, representing over 500 commercial, industrial, heavy and highway contractors, industry partners and related firms in 110 counties throughout Missouri.

Carpenters Funding Construction of Energy-Efficient Homes Next To NGA Site

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The St. Louis – Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council is investing in a start-up company that is building ultra-energy-efficient homes on a tract adjacent to the future National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency headquarters in North St. Louis.

Al Bond, executive secretary-treasurer for the Carpenters, said the project is another visible example of efforts to reenergize property on the city’s north side. The homes are located at the corner of Montgomery and 20th Streets.

“We’re investing $1.2 million in this housing development with the potential of 250 homes to be built,” said Bond. “NetZero LLC, the start-up, is building three display homes within the footprint of the NGA site. The Carpenters have invested in the factory that is manufacturing the panels for these homes. We also underwrote three construction loans on the display homes to provide NetZero with the capital to build them. Without (NorthSide Regeneration developer) Paul McKee, this would not be happening,” Bond added.

Developer for the energy-efficient homes project is Dwight Arant, owner of NetZero. The neighborhood is entitled Saint Louis Park Place.

NetZero COO Jon Bish said ranch and two-story floorplans range from 1,400 to 2,600 square feet. The three spec homes, which are headed for completion in May, are being built with expanded polyurethane structural insulated panels that give the homes an extremely tight envelope and high R-Value, R-28 walls and an R-40 roof.

“These panels are the basis for building net-zero or zero-energy ready homes,” Bish said. “Beyond the SIPs, we used Superior Walls for our foundations which give the basements extra insulation and efficiency. Energy Star windows, doors, lighting and appliances will be used to further reduce the amount of energy required to power the homes. We’re outfitting these homes with highly efficient ERV (energy recovery ventilation) systems and high-end mechanical air ventilation. And we’re equipping each of these homes with a rooftop solar array and battery backup system. All of these features combined enable our houses to achieve net zero.”

Congratulations SLCCC Best Practices & Diversity Award Winners!

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Best Practices

Advanced Work Packaging 

Midwestern Manufacturing Facility


Zero Accidents Techniques

Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery CCU-1 Turnaraound Project



Habitat for Humanity Headquarters and ReStore



Front End Planning

Washington University’s Pedestrian Bridge Replacement




Advanced Work Packaging

SSM St. Louis University Campus Renewal Hospital Project Bathroom Pods



SSM St. Mary’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Replacement


Diversity & Inclusion Finalists


Tom Finan – Construction Forum STL


People of Construction


Sultan Construction



St. Louis City Officials Reissue Building Permits for Micro-Hospital in NorthSide Regeneration Development

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Facility will fulfill much needed medical care in underserved north St. Louis City

NorthSide Regeneration received notification at noon on April 1 that the City of St. Louis reissued building permits on a micro-hospital planned for 1320 N. Jefferson Ave. in north St. Louis City. City officials had revoked the building permits in February citing inactivity on the former Pruitt-Igoe housing site and marking it as “abandoned.”

Hospital representative Mark S. Vincent said he did not understand why the city revoked the building permits because plans for the project were always securely in place.

“Our plans to build this important and much needed medical facility for the residents of north St. Louis City has never wavered,” said Vincent. “Today, following the announcement that the building permits have been reinstated, we are full steam ahead on the project. We have foundation work underway on the site and have a powerful financial structure in place to back it up. We are moving forward despite all the hurdles that we have had to endure to make this facility a reality for the people of north St. Louis City.”

The design builder on the project, KAI, submitted a letter to St. Louis City Building Commissioner Frank Oswald on March 27 requesting that the building permits be reinstated, stating that the project delay was the result of the lengthy Federal Government shutdown which has delayed the issuance of New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) for the project. KAI CEO Michael B. Kennedy, Jr. stated in the letter to Oswald that the project was never “abandoned” and that the tax credits are expected to be issued in late April or early May, with construction expected to resume in June.

“I am happy this much needed project is back on track,” said Kennedy. “We look forward to working together with city officials to fulfill NorthSide Regeneration’s vision for improving the lives of residents in north St. Louis City.”

Plans for the micro-hospital include three hospital beds and 24/7 emergency service. Vincent said he expects the facility to be completed by May 2020.

NorthSide Regeneration (NSR) is a mixed-use community development – a self-sustaining neighborhood of people, cultures, economic opportunity, safety and education with the infrastructure and growth to support key, necessary services for the community. For more information about NorthSide Regeneration, visit

Electrical Connection Hosts Business Panel Discussion on Skilled Labor Development

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For Dennis Gralike, director of the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center, the need to change the mindset of skilled labor development is abundantly clear at many high school career fairs.  “I’ll enter a gymnasium and find colleges set up on one side of the gym and everyone one else directed to set up on the other side,” notes Gralike.  “Then I’ll ask the career fair coordinator why colleges and the trade programs are separated.  After all, our program offers college credits and we train a lot of college students and graduates, all free of charge and with no student loans.”

Gralike was among four panelists in the March 27, 2019 St. Louis Business Journal “Future of Skilled Labor Development” Power Breakfast moderated by Publisher Robert Bobroff.  Bobroff said a record 240 people attended the event at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur, Mo.  Other panelists included Bonnie Daniels, senior vice president, culture and people services, MiTekJeff L. Pittman, PhD, chancellor, St. Louis Community College; and Sandra Marks, senior vice president, Clayco.

All panelists agreed that collaboration and partnerships among community agencies, businesses and schools remains essential to skilled labor development.   But no industry is being more rapidly transformed by technology than the electrical and communications industry.   Gralike noted that the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center is continually adapting its more than 70-course curriculum to meet those changes as it has for more than 75 years.  Through the Electrical Connection partnership, the training center is funded and operated jointly by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

“The digital age, smart infrastructure, renewable energy, robotics, advanced manufacturing, integrated communications and so much more are not possible without the skilled electricians and communication technicians we train,” said Gralike.  “But there remains a significant stigma attached to construction work that puts off high school students and other career aspirants.  We have a more than 90 percent graduation rate that launches dynamic, well-paying engineering and building careers that power and connect our businesses and communities – and it’s free of charge!”

Gralike noted that Electrical Connection’s IBEW/NECA leadership is working to change the mindset on construction careers in several ways:

  • Investing in and supporting STEM education that connects science, technology, engineering and math to electrical careers.
  • Offering continuing education to advance pace setting skills, including 58 hours of college credits through education partnerships with St. Louis Community Collegeand most major university in St. Louis area. 
  • Educating career counselors and students about the dynamic changes in the industry with training center technology that includes a rooftop solar array and courses on Building Information Modeling and next generation electrical/communication installations, including green energy, smart building technology and advanced manufacturing.
  • Broadening outreach by partnering with community organizations to attract more minorities in the electrical trades.  More than 25 percent of apprentices at the training center are minorities.
  • Mentoring programs that strengthen career development and help aspiring entrepreneurs launch their own electrical and communications contracting firms.
  • Strategic outreach to engage business and civic organizations, including board service on the Hawthorn FoundationSt. Louis Regional Chamber, the Missouri Energy Initiative, theEconomic Development Center of St. Charles County and the Missouri Governor’s Workforce Development Task Force.

Electrical Connection members provide safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world.  For more information visit

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