It’s been an exciting time for Nosa Ehimwenman. His construction firm BOWA Construction is in the midst of constructing the first high-rise in Chicago to be built by a Black-owned firm.
In 2021, BOWA was tapped by Chicago developer Related Midwest to co-partner on the $200 million high-rise, mix-use project, expected to be completed in 2023.
The construction industry is one still dominated by whites. Less than 7 percent of construction professionals are Black or African-American, according to 2021 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“Not to speak negatively of our industry but when you are intentional and understand what inclusion means, you actually build capacity of African American-owned firms,” Ehimwenman told The Chicago Tribune. “When you’re on a path with a developer that understands that path … having an organization like Related Midwest say ‘here’s a road map, let’s figure out how we get to that finish line,’ that’s how this high-rise happened.”
The building is slated to be 547,000 square feet and will be located at 900 Randolph in Chicago’s Fulton Market.
The building is part of a new state incentive created to encourage affordable housing, with 80 percent of the units being priced at market rate and 20 percent affordable.
Ehimwenman is so proud of his involvement in making history in the Windy City, that he recently brought out his sons and daughter to the project site.
“We just walked on the outside of the building and I said, ‘Dad’s building that,’ ” Ehimwenman said. “My daughter’s face was like, ‘You’re building that?’ ‘Yeah, I’m building that.’ I remember riding my bike through the city looking at these high-rises as a young Black kid saying ‘I would love to build one of those one day.’ Never thought it was possible, but now we’re doing it and that’s awesome,” the CEO told the Tribune.
About BOWA Construction
BOWA Construction has completed more than 250 contracts, most of which, 95 percent, have been returning clients, according to the company’s website.
Client projects include construction in healthcare, aviation, higher education, sports, and K-12 education, including big commercial properties like Starbucks.
BOWA Construction is the first minority-owned contractor in to have worked on Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport.
Wicker Park Sushi, Nuts on Clark, American Airlines, the Airport Police Department, and a local Starbucks on C1 at the O’Hare International Airport were constructed by BOWA.