Campus News

UK's Construction Diversity Accelerator Program Welcomes Inaugural Cohort

Quisha Ray Photography
Quisha Ray Photography

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 6, 2022) — The University of Kentucky, in partnership with Turner Construction, is currently hosting its inaugural Construction Diversity Accelerator (CDA) program designed to help minority-owned, women-owned and other underrepresented construction-related businesses gain access to the tools, resources and opportunities to be competitive in the construction industry.

"We are so thrilled to welcome our inaugural cohort of companies into the Construction Diversity Accelerator program and we look forward to engaging with them as they aspire to grow their businesses,” said Kristen Smitherman-Voltaire, community and citizenship manager at Turner Construction Company. “We recognize that these companies are making a significant commitment to invest in themselves through their participation in this program and we are proud to collaborate with the University of Kentucky and KYPTAC to honor that commitment.”

The CDA program, which began in March, is 10 weeks long and covers important topics like safety, site logistics, insurance and bonding, contracts, subcontracting, construction drawings and specifications, estimating, scheduling, bid and proposal preparation, construction accounting, certification and more.

To ensure those participating had a successful CDA program, only 15 companies were accepted for the 2022 season.

They include:

  • Valiant Construction LLC
  • HB Masonry LLC
  • TAS Development LLC
  • Franklin Contracting Inc.
  • Handy Manny LLC
  • Lexington Contracting LLC
  • Facility and Maintenance and Services Group
  • ARGC Construction Group
  • Overflow Service LLC
  • Bluegrass Construction Operations LLC
  • Third Rock Consultants LLC
  • Ranger Steel
  • Elaine Allen
  • Kaliber Electric LLC

“I couldn’t be more pleased with the businesses in this cohort. They are diverse demographically but also in size, years in service, number of employees and trade categories. Also, 66% of the cohort is minority and we also have a great representation of women-owned and veteran-owned construction businesses,” said Marilyn Clark, UK’s supplier diversity manager. “The training they receive from Turner, UK, community partners and KYPTAC coaches will really help accelerate their mastery of the skills needed to be more competitive in the construction industry. Our goal is to make sure they are contract ready when they complete the program.”

The program culminates in a mock bid project that calls on teams to present their proposals in front of a panel of expert judges. Graduation from the program will take place Wednesday, May 11. in the Gatton Student Center.

“The CDA is an important part of UK’s DEI efforts,” said UK’s Chief Procurement Officer Barry Swanson. “Our goal is to have a positive impact in the community, and I can think of nothing more impactful that helping businesses gain the knowledge they need to become a supplier to UK and be ready to successfully compete for non-UK business in the community.” 

The Turner-UK Construction Diversity Accelerator is in collaboration with the Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center (KYPTAC).  Each participant is assigned a business coach that will work with them even beyond the 10-week program.

“KYPTAC is excited to further extend our relationship with the University of Kentucky and Turner Construction through the CDA program,” said Nancy Brown, executive director of KYPTAC. “The cohort was engaged and interested during our first session, and we expect a significant impact in combining all parties' joint commitment to supplier diversity, disadvantaged businesses and the success of our community overall."

Community partners engage with the CDA participants each week. They include Commerce Lexington, Blue Grass Airport, Lynn Imaging, Fayette County Public Schools, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, the SBA and Park Community Credit Union and Messer Construction.

In keeping with the spirit of inclusion, the CDA program is working with diverse catering companies, under contract with Aramark dining services, to provide boxed dinners each week and contracted with Quisha Ray Photography, a minority business enterprise (MBE) to take photos for the reception and graduation. 

For more information about opportunities with UK visit

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.