Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Bucks Beat Hiring Targets on Fiserv Forum

Team "won the championship" in hiring city residents, businesses says Mayor Barrett.

By - Nov 20th, 2019 10:03 am
Arena Construction. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Arena Construction. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Milwaukee Bucks and city officials gathered Tuesday to celebrate a successful effort to hire unemployed city residents and minority-run businesses in building the $524 million Fiserv Forum complex.

“As the final numbers come in, it’s clear we won the championship,” said Mayor Tom Barrett at a press conference in the arena’s atrium.

As is required on all deals where more than $1 million of city money is involved, the team and its contractors were required to use underemployed or unemployed city residents for 40 percent of the construction work hours and pay a prevailing wage, allocate 25 percent of the construction contracts by dollar value to certified Small Business Enterprises (SBEs) and allocate 18 percent of the professional services contracts to SBEs.

The team exceeded the mark on every benchmark, including having 765,000 hours (42 percent) of the project work hours completed by qualifying residents representing every council district. That includes work on Fiserv Forum, the jointly-owned parking structure and public plaza. It does not include work on the Deer District entertainment center which was not subsidized directly by the city.

“It was important for all involved that those that worked on the project looked like those that live in the city,” said Alderman Khalif Rainey. He praised the Bucks as a model corporate citizen.

Payments for construction contracts totaled $98 million (36.8 percent) exceeding the 25 percent target. Professional services contracted totaled $5.6 million (21 percent).

“This was a big thing for us to ensure this was going to benefit the entire city,” said team senior vice president Alex Lasry.

The city and Bucks jointly funded a $750,000 workforce development effort as part of the project. “I believe it was worth every penny,” said Barrett. The effort included town- hall meetings outside of Downtown, a software system and targeted outreach efforts.

Qualifying firms participating in the arena complex’s construction include architecture firm RINKA, Rams Contracting, JCP Construction, Duwe Metal Products and Abaxent.

Why announce the results now when the arena opened in August 2018? A city spokesperson said it was a matter of collecting the data and coordinating schedules.

The results had been reported quarterly to the Common Council through October 2018 and included extensive written reports. The latest briefing, which included data through June 2018, was presented by Lasry, Lafayette Crump of Prism Technical Group, Carla Cross of Cross Management Services and a representative of project general contractor Mortenson Construction. Cross and Prism led the monitoring and reporting effort.

And while the program celebrated a number of successes, including capacity building in a number of firms, one of the companies participating wound up in legal trouble. Sonag Ready Mix, led by Muskego resident Brian Ganos, received more than $5 million in arena-related contracts, but may have done so illegitimately. Ganos pled guilty to federal contracting fraud charges in June 2019 and is facing decades in jail. Sonag has been involved in virtually all major government-subsidized projects in the region in recent years, including Northwestern Mutual‘s new office tower. The firm is now closed. Ganos was indicted earlier this month for possession of child pornography.

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