When planning for the Democratic National Convention began last year, organizers made diversity a priority in their awarding of contracts.
Convention organizers created a business directory where local companies looking to get a part of the DNC action could list their services. And they made a goal to spend at least one-third of their money with “diversely owned” companies, owned by minorities, women, veterans, people with disabilities and members of the gay community.
Woman-owned Something Classic was awarded the contract to cater the media party. Veteran-owned Ranger Construction is helping build the suites were media members will work. And woman-owned and minority-owned The Main Event will plan a delegate party.
And with the convention only a few weeks away, planning and construction for this diverse group of local businesses is now in full swing.
Here are a few of their stories.
Owner: Bernie Funck
Diversity factor: Veteran-owned
DNC project: Building media suites in Time Warner Cable Arena
Ranger Construction’s 35-person crew has spent the past three weeks helping transform Time Warner Cable Arena for the first two days of the DNC.
“A lot of people worked to get (the convention) here,” said owner Bernie Funck. “We wanted to be a part of that.”
His team’s job was to transform what are normally luxury suites into media work areas. For Ranger Construction, this entailed removing some of the items from the suites and putting up drywall and framing. Funck said the arena is almost unrecognizable because of all the construction.
Funck said the level of oversight for this project, which included supervision from the Secret Service, has been unlike any he’s experienced. And oversight is not new to Funck, who was in the military for more than 20 years. He said the name Ranger Construction came from his time in the military.
Funck said he has tried to give back to his community through his work at the Carolinas Freedom Foundation, where he chairs the board, and through this project. The next task for Ranger Construction is to outfit the suites for news organizations such as NBC and CNN.
“I think it’s a great project for the city,” Funck said. “It’s something that will be part of our history.”
President: Jill Marcus
Diversity factor: Woman-owned
DNC project: Catering the media party
Something Classic will cater the Sept.1 party for media covering the DNC, but the company won’t do it alone. Marcus said they have partnered with some of Charlotte’s best-known restaurants to give the press a taste of what the city has to offer.
“The audience is ... the people who will write about Charlotte,” Marcus said. “We have the opportunity to give the initial first impression of Charlotte.”
The party, which will be held at the N.C. Music Factory and other uptown sites, will host the anticipated 15,000 media members from across the country.
“It’s like the party to be at,” she said. “Who wouldn’t want to be involved?”
Marcus said she’s only been organizing the party for about two weeks, but she’s already secured menu help from Charlotte staples including Mert’s Heart & Soul for banana pudding, Price’s Chicken Coop for fried chicken and Cheerwine-infused barbecue from Queen City Q.
“I’m showing them my favorite places in Charlotte,” she said.
“When people go to a new city, not only do they want to see the buildings, the art; they want to taste the food. That’s how you taste the culture.”
Something Classic is also working with local farms and food trucks to help cater the event.
The Main Event
President: Rhonda Caldwell
Diversity factor: Woman-owned, minority-owned
DNC project: Planning a delegate welcome party
Caldwell and her seven-person team are planning the Sept. 2 welcome party for the 700 delegates of Florida, Mississippi and Alabama.
Caldwell was notified in May that her company had been awarded the contract for the party, which will take place at the Historic Rosedale Plantation a few minutes outside uptown.
“We normally do large events, but this is large because it’s large for the city of Charlotte,” she said. ‘It’s one of those things that when something has international spotlight, you want to be a part of that.”
The Main Event’s duties include creating the menu, organizing entertainment, and doing design and decor for the party.
Caldwell said southern hospitality will be a central theme of the event.
The menu will include southern favorites such as tomato sandwiches, a roasting corn station and hand-churned strawberry and peach ice cream. She said the party will also include bluegrass bands and a history of the plantation’s ghosts.
The plantation was built in 1815 by Archibald Frew. The 4,600-square-foot home originally sat on 919 acres, but today only 8.9 acres remain. The home was sold in 1986 and underwent a seven-year, multimillion-dollar restoration, and it is now open for tours and events.
She said incorporating pieces of the plantation’s history into the event was a priority.
“Everything will have a Southern flair,” she said.