Building for the new Florida A&M University (FAMU) Center for Access and Student Success (CASS) building is already underway. The Ajax Building Corporation recently held an informational session for minority companies wishing to bid on the project.
“Our goal is to get as many minority companies involved with the project. Minority companies make up about a half a billion in revenue throughout the southeast,” said Ted Parker, director of outreach and vendor diversity of Ajax.
Minority businesses consist of companies that are at least 59 percent African American or female-owned. Small businesses with some revenue, disadvantaged business enterprises and veteran organizations also count as small businesses.
In 2015, it was announced that FAMU would build the complex, which originally was to be placed on the McGuinn and Diamond property. The 73,000 square foot project will be a multipurpose space for housing, student recruitment, admissions, and financial aid, among other offices. The property will be housed next to Gaither gym.
The CASS building is expected to cost $27 million. Parker says companies wishing to bid can find the bidding form on Ajax corporations website.
Parker says that the company does not have a specific number in mind when it comes to how many businesses he wants to invest.
“We need all trade contractors from concrete to IT and everything in between,” said Parker. Bid packages include roofing, waterproofing systems, plumbing, electrical, and fire protection.
Many FAMU students have expressed an interest in the project for some quite time now; however, not all are on board.
“I feel like minority businesses should invest. It allows them to shine as well,” said Jason Moody, a senior FAMU student. “I’m not really excited about the building because as soon as they open the eastern side of the campus will be irrelevant.”
Other students also fear the extinction of the “original” part of the campus.
“I feel like FAMU is slowly trying to get rid of the original part of the campus. They are trying to make FAMU more metropolitan,” said Jasmine Williams, a senior at FAMU.
In February, students and administrators lobbied on behalf of the school to inform legislators on the CASS project and get more funding.
“I decided to attend the FAMU day at the Capitol because I felt it was imperative to stand with other students, alumni, and faculty to lobby for FAMU. The building is very important because it would provide students with important educational resources and help FAMU reach higher heights academically,” said Student Body Vice President, Dejuh Sawyer.
The CASS building is not the only project put on by Ajax. The company is currently repairing garages on both the house and the Senate at the legislature as well as a $60 million lab at FSU.
Ajax recently announced a partnership with Florida State University diversity officer, Edward Acoff, to create a new student union at FSU which will cost about $100 million.
The CASS building is expected to be completed by 2019.