South Immokalee storm water project improves street, economic & cultural levels

 When Collier County lawmakers agreed January 24 to award construction contracts for the $2.7 million storm water improvement system in South Immokalee it was significant on the street level – but also on the economic and cultural levels.

 When completed, the new storm water collection system will eliminate troublesome street flooding along the most residential streets of South Immokalee.

 Collier County Commissioners awarded the construction contract to the Douglas N. Higgins Construction Company of Naples.

 But among the sub-contractors on the job will be Manuel Padilla and his company, Padilla Construction, Inc., a graduate of the Immokalee Business Development Center (IMMBIZ).

 Just over a year ago, Padilla was struggling to launch his own company after years working for others in the construction trade.

 He attended last spring the initial entrepreneurial school offered by IMMBIZ and, following that, IMMBIZ helped Padilla get certified by the U.S. government as a minority-owned business, meaning he could qualify for special benefits when applying for contracts supported by tax dollars.

 Since most of the money for the South Immokalee storm water projects comes from U.S. government grants, Higgins would have to agree – as primary contractor – to award 25 percent of the sub-contractors’ work to minority-owned business. 

Enter Padilla Construction Company. 

With the construction contract signed and delivered, Padilla Construction will get a nearly $800,000 sub-contract to perform all the sidewalk reconstruction on the project. 

"It's working,” said Penny Phillippi, executive director of the Immokalee CRA and creator of IMMBIZ. “Economic development is working in Immokalee. Manuel went from IMMBIZ to (minority-owned) qualifications, introduced to the big contractor at a pre-bid meeting. The (project grant) money is coming back to Immokalee."   

Padilla Construction is among the growing number of new and expanding businesses in Immokalee, part of the growing entrepreneurial scene which again demonstrates one of the reasons why Immokalee IS Florida in the 21st Century.




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