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Networking and Building Connections

Building for Growth Teams Up with ICAN to Launch the 2024 Program Application

By ICIC | April 16, 2024

Earlier this month, ICIC’s Building for Growth (BFG) program joined ICIC’s Inner City Alumni Network (ICAN) in California, where they hosted information sessions in Oakland and Sacramento to launch the 2024 BFG application. BFG is a national, online, executive education program that helps primarily BIPOC-, woman-, and veteran-owned construction contractors build capacity and develop sustainable growth strategies. The ground-breaking program was inspired by Jennifer Pinck, the ICIC board member who made history as the first woman in Massachusetts to earn an ABC Boston Building License. BFG is delivered tuition-free thanks to the generous support of sponsors including The Home Depot, Intuit, and PG&E.

In the two years since the program’s start, BFG has served 166 construction firms from 29 states. Graduates from the inaugural cohort saw incredible success, raising $5.4 million in total capital, increasing their bonding capacity by an average of 156%, and increasing their backlog by an average of 101%. In 2024, BFG will invite up to 50 new firms to participate in the national cohort, which covers everything from strategy and capital to contracts and liability in the span of 18 weeks.

BFG Program Director Steve Lamar (right) and BFG Program Manager Monica Chenier (front left) with BGF alumni at the Los Angeles ICAN Small Business Mixer

The information sessions marked the first time that construction owners had the opportunity to network in-person with program staff and alumni before applying. Steve Lamar, BFG Program Director, shared how the program is specifically designed to help later-stage construction companies reach their next level, outlining the unique aspects of the program, such as classes taught by successful industry practitioners, learning with a group of peers from across the nation, and having access to digital and human resources that remain available after completing the course. Building for Growth alumni followed Lamar’s comments, eagerly expressing the impact of the program on their companies.

“After participating in Building for Growth, I’m a better businessman in every sense – I have been leveled up. Every construction business needs to take this training. Nothing I could say about BFG would do it justice; it was phenomenal.”
– Charles Matthews, Owner of Big Pipe Mechanical in San Francisco, California

“Since attending ICIC’s program, I sincerely feel that my company is poised to grab the air beneath our wings and start to fly again. Your help, advice, and understanding of the hurdles a small business faces every day is the key to my determination to be successful.”
– Northern California Steering Committee Member Reva Murphy of Reva Murphy Associates

Building Connections and Expanding Horizons

The BFG information sessions were held in conjunction with small business networking events hosted by ICAN. ICIC’s vibrant and growing alumni network is comprised of more than 8,000 graduates of ICIC’s small business programming across the United States and Canada. In-person and virtual events are offered annually to provide opportunities for continuing education and networking. The California mixers, held in Los Angeles, Oakland, and Sacramento, brought together a diverse group of nearly 100 ICIC ecosystem members, including program alumni, corporate partners, staff, and board members, for an energizing evening of introductions over tasty treats and beverages. Attendees enthusiastically chatted about the many intersecting points across their projects and ventures, creating an atmosphere of possibility and belonging.

LA Steering Committee Member Mellissa Tong, ICIC Board Member Caron Ng, and ICIC alumna Nataline Lomedico with ICIC staff members Ivana Findlay, Carol Mejia, and Monica Chenier.

Among the shop talk and elevator pitches, cheers of surprise and joy could be heard as the winners of coveted raffle prizes were announced. Attendees departed the events having been immersed in conversations that reignited the urgency to accomplish unmet goals and having formed new relationships that hold the potential to solve problems and fulfill dreams.

The events featured a number of alumni welcome speakers, including ICIC Board Member Caron Ng (NUSET Lock), multi-year IC100 winner Jack Smith (Fortuna BMC), and Oakland Steering Committee Members Sally Lopez (Sonoma County Hardship Fund) and Feleciai Favroth (Skincare by Feleciai). In Los Angeles, alumna Mellissa Tong of DuckPunk Productions delivered an impactful talk about how small businesses can effectively pitch their company.

Attendees from the Oakland Small Business Mixer

The success of the events is due in large part to the dedicated efforts of the ICAN Chapter Steering Committee Members:

Los Angeles Steering Committee

  • Marianne Boules, Boules Consulting
  • Diana Cruz Adams, Cura Insurance Solutions
  • Roberto Martinez, Braven Agency, Inc
  • Tosca Taitt, Kenny’s Q BarBeQue and More!
  • Mellissa Tong, DuckPuck Productions, Inc.
  • Linda Zamora, Iberican Language Services, Inc

Northern California Steering Committee

  • Feleciai Favroth, Skincare by Feleciai
  • Robert Joseph, Step Ahead Solutions, Inc.
  • Kelly Klein, La Roza Construction, Inc.
  • Sally Lopez, Opportunity Foundation of Sonoma County
  • Reva Murphy, RMA – Reva Murphy Associates, Inc.
  • Ghaliyah Roberts-Palmer, GRATITUDE
Attendees and ICIC staff from the Sacramento Small Business Mixer

These events, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, were the first of ICAN’s in-person events for the year. Additional events will be held in the summer and fall.

Small business owners and supporters can sign up here to be the first to know about upcoming ICAN events and news. Entrepreneurs in the construction industry can apply now for Building for Growth or learn more by registering to attend the May 8, 2024 virtual information session hosted by the program’s director, Steve Lamar.


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