Image courtesy One West

OneWest was formed in 2014 by a group of professionals who believe that the key to Louisville’s continued growth rests in an intentional focus and inclusion of west Louisville. OneWest’s board of directors comprises city leaders and West Louisville residents, and is led by Evon J. Smith, a real estate developer who joined the group in 2018.

In February of this year, OneWest announced the creation of a business accelerator specifically geared toward black and brown contractors and construction business owners. It was built in collaboration with KPFF Consulting Engineers, 7PM Group, Louisville Central Community Center (LCCC), and University of Louisville College of Business.

The Plan Room’s purpose is to provide education, training, mentorship, professional services, and networking opportunities in a physical space. Participants will be able to share equipment, bidding opportunities, and marketing services through a centralized web presence—all at no cost.

“As we work to build wealth and bring growth to the West End in Louisville and all of Louisville, we hope The Plan Room will become a beacon for project managers and property developers to hire and collaborate with qualified minority businesses in our community,” Smith said.

KPFF will create a sustainable system for entrance into Business Information Modeling (BIM) careers; the 7PM Group, a minority-owned construction support-company, helped build the physical space; LCCC will administer the technology assessment process for candidates seeking to enter the program; and UofL’s College of Business will manage the business curriculum.

This month, OneWest also announced a new Business Information Modeling (BIM) training program at The Plan Room. BIM is an intelligent process that uses 3D construction documents to give architecture, engineering, and construction professionals the insight and tools to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure.

Greg Buccola and the KPFF Consulting Engineers office in Louisville have been leading the charge for this training program. “There is a huge need for these professionals in our industry,” Buccola said. “We have been outsourcing this work to other countries. We can teach a high school graduate how to use the BIM software in far less time than a 2- or 4-year degree program. So why not create our own ecosystem of BIM personnel and help lift up our community with higher paying jobs?”

The interactive program provides 14 weeks of instruction to scale up candidates into more meaningful, higher paying careers. Applications are now being accepted for the first training session beginning in July, with a prerequisite technology training course starting in May. Visit the Plan Room site to learn more and apply.

“This is what real community development looks like,” Smith explained. “The launch of The Plan Room earlier this year has been an incredible step forward for racial minority business owners in the construction industry. The addition of the BIM Training Program provides access to practical skills for just about anyone — not just those in the construction industry — to succeed in a new higher-paying career in the architecture, engineering, and construction industries. And this is only the beginning for OneWest and our incredible partners.”