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CHAMPAIGN — Dozens of independent contractors registered under the Champaign Diversity Advancement Program met Tuesday with Costco’s general contractor to hear about how they can contribute to the multimillion-dollar local project.

Set to open in October 2020, the Costco project is a partnership between the warehouse chain and the city of Champaign to redevelop the former Bergner’s department store wing at Market Place Mall.

Contractors — from cleaning services to marketing professionals — and diversity consultants gathered outside the old entrance to Bergner’s in the mall to meet with Anand Nandula, project manager at Novak Construction Inc., the general contractor for the Costco project.

Nandula said Tuesday was about answering common questions and providing more details about the project, which he said could take about four months to complete.

“At this point, we just have to put the team together with local participation, and off we go,” Nandula said.

“There are generally three things to look out for in a construction project: quality, time and money. There’s a balance you need to create there, and once we get the prices and everything, we’re going to be interviewing everybody. Our goal is for everybody to make money and be happy at the end of the day.”

Carlton Bruett, who runs Carlton Bruett Design, said he hopes Costco will take advantage of a locally run marketing firm to sell the new store to Champaign residents.

“Hopefully we can build some relationships and provide some marketing and graphic design services,” Bruett said as about a dozen other contractors mingled with Nandula. “The CDAP program is very important because it allows people who don’t necessarily have the experience or resources to compete but have the skill set to actually find opportunities. These kinds of programs make it possible for groups like ours to take advantage of opportunities like Costco.”

Fred Coleman III, who runs Coleman and Associates, a company that deals with procuring diversity hires for architecture, engineering and construction firms like Novak, said CDAP has come a long way.

“Typically, the challenges we face are finding minority- and women-owned businesses,” Coleman said. “But fortunately, the city of Champaign has done a good job with this program registering a number of minority- and women-owned businesses already.”

Typically, Coleman said, the role he plays is making sure that contracts and opportunities given to these kinds of businesses address all the needs they have. He said CDAP is “noteworthy” among other programs he has worked with firms to comply with.

“I’m very happy the city and council have moved effectively on this.”

Jemiyah Beard, CEO of Mary’s Master Cleaning Service, doesn’t think it’s quite time for her to seek a contract from the general contractor. Her firm works mainly with final cleaning after construction is finished.

“It’s the last part of the process, so they don’t really think about that right now,” Beard said. “But this is just to get in people’s ear right now to maybe get some of that opportunity.”

To Rachel Joy, city community relations manager, Tuesday was a testament to the success CDAP has already had.

“From looking at December when we were trying to get people certified, to now seeing a major development using those resources, I think it’s great,” Joy said. “This is a real opportunity to be inclusive because this is Novak actually doing outreach in a way that wouldn’t have happened but for the city’s program.”


Aldo Toledo is a reporter covering local government at The News-Gazette. His email is, and you can follow him on Twitter (@aldot29).