New class of businesses joins free USF and Skanska program aimed at helping diverse-owned companies

Press release 8/2/2023 2:00 PM EST

Kickoff reception on Aug. 4 for small business mentoring initiative entering its third year, with enhanced learning opportunities for participants

TAMPA, FL – The University of South Florida, in partnership with Skanska, announces the 2023 class of its mentoring program designed to support the Tampa Bay region’s diverse-owned small businesses in the construction industry. 

Over the past two years, more than 20 local minority, woman and veteran-owned businesses have successfully completed the mentor-protégé program, which provides companies with training, development and partnership opportunities to help them grow their capacity and become more effective with competitive bidding processes. 

The free, 12-week program coordinated through USF’s Office of Supplier Diversity provides guidance on a variety of subjects, such as environmental health and safety, marketing and business development, as well as project accounting. This year features enhanced learning opportunities with the inclusion of clinical simulations in conjunction with USF Health, which will help participants prepare for live construction scenarios within a health care facility.

“The University of South Florida is continuing to build on the success of the mentorship program, and we’re so happy for the opportunity to assist more businesses for the third consecutive year,” said Terrie Daniel, USF Office of Supplier Diversity assistant vice president.  “USF is committed to ensuring our local minority, veteran and women business owners have the tools they need to grow and prosper.” 

This year’s cohort consists of the following businesses:

  • Gulf Atlantic Engineers, PA
  • AEC Development Partners LLC
  • J&B Construction Services USA INC
  • id Designs & Co.
  • Toro Construction Services Inc dba Toro CSI
  • Promise Construction and Repair Solutions, LLC
  • Cut Ups Lawn Service
  • Marvis Enterprises Corp.
  • Innovative Homes & Remodeling, Inc 

“We are excited to once again partner with USF to support the continued growth and success of the mentor-protégé program,” said Tracy Hunt, senior vice president at Skanska USA. “At Skanska, we pride ourselves on building what matters and by building this connection with our small, diverse participants we can remove barriers and provide the best resources to help them become more successful and thrive in the industry and bolster our local business community.”

Previous participants have said they benefitted greatly from the business expertise provided by USF faculty and staff, along with Skanska and other industry professionals. 

“The mentoring I received gave me the confidence to get out of my comfort zone, do more public speaking and go out to find projects for the company,” said Nia Ogletree, CEO of Arielle Management Group and a member of the mentor program’s first class in 2021.   

Ogletree, a U.S. Army veteran, added that since completing the program her client base has grown, having received increased work on a commercial fire alarm project and a new five-year contract with the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Diverse firms are selected based on recommendations from community partners, which include the Hillsborough County NAACP, Prospera, the Women’s Business Enterprise Council Florida, Inclusive St. Petersburg and the Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce. To qualify, companies must provide services and be a supplier in the construction industry, as well as be in business for at least one year. 

The 2023 mentor-protégé program kicks off with a reception on Aug. 4, with the first session starting on Aug. 10.