Philadelphia Builders and Developers Team Up to Combat Racial Disparities in Construction


As the need for skilled workers grows, it's crucial for the construction industry to diversify its labor force. According to the U.S. Department of Labor statistics, white construction workers accounted for 87.3% of the workforce in 2022.

That’s part of the reason why Rick Young founded the Urban Developers Association (UDA), whose mission is to provide those underrepresented in the home building industry access to capital, networking opportunities and support as equity partners in joint ventures.

To help him broaden his efforts in reducing the racial disparities in construction, Young partnered with the Building Industry Association (BIA) of Philadelphia.

In June 2022, the UDA and BIA of Philadelphia hosted their first joint event, bringing budding developers in the same space as other industry professionals. More than 90 guests attended the first happy hour, and ever since, these regular meetups have scaled to as many as 200 attendees.

“The events give people a chance to network and talk to people they’d never otherwise get a chance to be in front of,” said Young. “That’s as meaningful as anything I’ve set out to do: to be a bridge between two cultures and really be able to bring everyone under one roof to have a chance to network and talk to people they’d probably never get a chance to talk to.”

Additionally, the BIA and UDA interviewed more than a dozen emerging entrepreneurs and selected five to support through an equity fund.

“We’re going to try to take these developers to the next step,” said Marianne Scott, executive director of the BIA of Philadelphia. “We’re connecting them to some of the best developers in the city so they will be taken through the whole process of applying for land through the Land Bank.”

The goal is for the developers to build around 10 affordable housing homes each for profit so they can continue to rebuild the neighborhood.

Young is also working to soon launch the Women's Urban Development Association (WUDA), after seeing a rapid expansion of women pursuing the construction field, many of whom attend the UDA’s events.

“I think the UDA can be something very meaningful for other markets,” said Young. “I’d be more than happy to travel to other markets and help them organize another organization like ours.’

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