RICHMOND, Va. -- When Richmond's new Diamond District starts to take shape, there is one Central Virginia business owner who's excited to be front and center during the process.
Grace Washington has been making her mark on the community through her consulting firm, J&G Workforce Development services. Her company was tapped by the group RVA Diamond Partners LLC which won the $2.4 billion Diamond District proposal to transform Scott's Addition.
"I am their workforce development consultant. As I always am working to build capacity for small minority contractors, I'm working closely with the MBE coordinator to make sure we are making those connections with our small minority contractors," Washington said.
This type of work isn't new to Washington. Her country is fulfilling contracts across the country and in Central Virginia and she's known for supporting, training, advocating for and connecting small businesses with big opportunities.
DJ Robinson owns Royal Flush Plumbing & Services and says it was Washington's guidance that helped put his business in a better position to grow.
"They put me with a company called comfort systems, Colonial Webb, a major company to be mentored. Through that mentorship, we have become great together and they have put us in a position where we can go after a substantial portion of that work whatever we want to do. For me, I'll be able to sustain on a project like that with this company as my partner," Robinson said.
Washington, who developed a construction build-up program a few years ago, said they have seen great success pairing small businesses like Robinson's with larger general contracting firms.
"Partnering with a majority firm, they are able to see all the working aspects of a company so they can learn hands-on what they can do to make their companies successful," Washington said.
Washington said when she's working on certain projects, she is required to refer minority subcontractors on big projects, like the one taking shape in Richmond's new Diamond District. She believes that's what community wealth-building is all about.
"As a small contractor, they may not have been able to do that alone, but when we partner them up with a partner, they are able to do that," Washington said.
"She opens the doors, she's a trailblazer, she's stand up and she definitely wants the best for people. I've only seen her work help people, not hurt them," Robinson said.