Sands funds effort to assist union members in business ventures

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Las Vegas Sands and the Strategic Pathways Group are launching a program to help union members establish businesses that can serve as suppliers for the casino/entertainment resort proposed for the Nassau Coliseum property in Uniondale. 

Sands has committed between $150,000 and $300,000 to fund the pilot program in partnership with the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and the Building and Construction Trades of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, which combined represent more than 300,000 union members. 

The effort aims to guide and certify union members who wish to launch their own MWBEs (Minority and Women Business Enterprises) and SDVOBs (Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses), that could enable them to participate in the procurement process for the Sands development if it gets approved, according to a Sands statement. 

Strategic Pathways Group, a minority, women-led business, was engaged by Las Vegas Sands to lead the DEI efforts including MWBEs and SDVOBs to secure sought-after local, state, and federal MWBE certifications, as well as provide support services for would-be entrepreneurs. 

“I’m extremely proud and honored to spearhead this first-of-its-kind collaboration which has the potential to become a national model for any development to meet the new market and regulatory realities,” Angelina Ramirez, a partner of Strategic Pathways Group, said in the statement. “This four-way collaboration between Sands New York, NSBCTC, LI Fed, and Strategic Pathways Group proactively addresses historically exclusionary processes.” 

The goals of the pilot program are to grow the number of union vendors in the state; create the entrepreneurial support necessary for the state to meet, and over time, exceed the 30 percent MWBE goals in the downstate gaming market and beyond; and build a pipeline for MWBE firms who want to secure contracts with Sands, and ensure that they are prepared, certified, and ready for business prior to construction. 

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“When I signed on to work with Sands, one of the things I found most compelling was their desire to go beyond the state’s expectation as it concerns MWBEs, and truly create an inclusive proposal that would benefit all of Long Island’s diverse communities,” David Paterson, former governor and senior vice president for Sands, said in the statement. “This partnership allows Sands to play a crucial role in the creation of new unionized, minority, women, and veteran-owned companies that can help us deliver a world-class project for the region.”  

John Durso, president of the Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO said the program is another tool dedicated to building strong and vibrant communities across Long Island.  

“The Sands partnership with Strategic Pathways coupled with access to our affiliates and their members has the potential to help diversify the small business community, assist current union members in realizing their entrepreneurial dreams, and introduce more employers to the marketplace who will manage their workforce with dignity and respect,” Durso said in the statement. 

The new program will also serve to ensure that Sands’ proposed project will be able to secure local contracts, protect workers’ rights, and enhance opportunities for labor’s diverse membership, according to the statement. 

Tracey Edwards, a partner of Strategic Pathways Group and lead advisor for diversity, equity, and inclusion for the Sands proposal, pointed out that minorities and women have been responsible for more than 50 percent of the country’s business creation in the last decade. 

“This agreement now facilitates both the creation of thousands of union jobs, and many more minority and women-led companies within Long Island’s labor community,” Edwards said in the statement. 

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Matthew Aracich, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, commended Sands for launching the new initiative. 

“Today we take the next step forward to redefine the landscape of Long Island’s workforce by fostering a new generation of entrepreneurs,” Aracich said in the statement. “This first of its kind program, will create a new pathway for men and women of color in the building trades who aspire to take the leap from member to vendor. It’s certainly not a gamble to make a real investment in our local community while we tackle diversity and inclusion by recruiting candidates who become union members.” 



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