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Construction Diversity Accelerator Launches Third Annual Cohort

Construction Diversity Accelerator Logo

The University of Kentucky (UK), Turner Construction Company and the Kentucky APEX Accelerator recently accepted 21 companies to the 2024 Construction Diversity Accelerator (CDA). This is the third annual cohort to participate in the accelerator, a 10-week intensive program designed to equip underrepresented businesses in construction and related trades with the knowledge and skills they need to be competitive in their industry. The 2024 accelerator officially launched on March 5 with a welcome reception for cohort members and community partners.


The CDA helps construction businesses work together to succeed, empowering them to achieve small wins that lead to big wins,” said Kentucky APEX Accelerator Executive Director Nancy Brown. “The program marks the power of collaboration, the value of diversity and the recognition that economic inclusion is not just a box to be checked. It is a necessity for the growth of the construction industry.”

Nancy Brown of Kentucky APEX Accelerator and Maya Middlebrook of Turner Construction network during the 2024 CDA Welcome Reception.

One reflection of the CDA’s impact is the widespread support that the program has garnered from community partners across the central Kentucky region. This year’s cohort is supported by 13 organizations that have invested in the program through sponsorships, one-on-one networking opportunities and other supplemental resources provided at no cost to participants:


Blue Grass Airport

Commerce Lexington

Fayette County Public Schools

Equity Solutions Group

Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government

Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission

Lynn Imaging

Messer Construction

U.S. Small Business Administration

UK Economic Development Collaborative

UK Economic Inclusion

UK Federal Credit Union

UK Procurement Services

“The CDA enters year three with growing support,” said UK Economic Inclusion Manager Marilyn Clark. "This year, we added three new community partners: the Louisville Metro Human Rights Commission, the UK Federal Credit Union and Equity Solutions Group. These new partners bring new resources, different perspectives and more opportunities to the cohort. I am excited about the talents and skills evident in this cohort and look forward to the continued partnership with Turner Construction and the Kentucky APEX Accelerator.”

A graphic showing the logos of all 2024 CDA community partners


Throughout the program’s nine instructional sessions, participants obtain training from subject matter experts at both Turner Construction and the University of Kentucky while walking through the process of bidding on an active construction project on UK’s campus. The program culminates with the submission and presentation of a mock bid prepared by each team of participants.


“The CDA program is part of a collective vision to achieve greater equity and inclusion within our industry through intentional relationship building," said Kristen Smitherman-Voltaire, community and citizenship director at Turner Construction. "Huge thanks to Marilyn Clark and her team at UK, as well as the Kentucky APEX Accelerator staff, for their continued collaboration. We could not ask for better partners to be involved in the work of supporting this year’s dynamic cohort.”


Consultants from the Kentucky APEX Accelerator, an initiative of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation dedicated to helping Kentucky businesses navigate the complex world of government contracting, support CDA participants throughout the program and provide one-on-one coaching specific to each company's needs. Areas of support include business readiness assessments, guidance with crafting a business capabilities statement and assistance with completing socioeconomic certifications such as women-owned and minority-owned designations.

Kentucky APEX Accelerator team members pose with Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation President Terry Samuel at the 2024 CDA Welcome Reception.

Eric Byrd, a Kentucky APEX Accelerator procurement consultant who serves clients in eastern Kentucky, is excited for businesses in his region to reap the benefits of the CDA program. “The CDA provides an accelerated learning program for small construction companies throughout Kentucky,” Byrd said. “The knowledge, experience and connections that a business can obtain in the CDA can often take years to gather in the construction industry.”


Shawn Rogers, a procurement consultant based in the Kentucky APEX Accelerator’s Elizabethtown office, also emphasized the program's value, which she has witnessed after three years of working with participants. “This is an opportunity that can be truly transformational,” said Rogers. “The hands-on experience and industry and community connections are invaluable.”


Participants in the 2024 accelerator cohort represent 14 trade categories, such as sitework, utilities, finishes and concrete. The cohort includes 18 minority-owned businesses, three women-owned businesses and two veteran-owned businesses, reflecting the program’s commitment to serving underrepresented businesses in the industry.


Those interested in learning more about government contracting resources available through the Kentucky APEX Accelerator, including the Construction Diversity Accelerator program, can visit

The 2024 CDA Steering Committee poses for a photo.

About Kentucky APEX Accelerator

Formerly known as KYPTAC, the Kentucky APEX Accelerator is an initiative of the Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation (KSTC) that promotes economic development and private sector business growth by providing free assistance to companies interested in providing products or services to federal, state and local governments and large primes, which annually offer billions of dollars in contracts to private sector companies. The Kentucky APEX Accelerator is funded in part through cooperative agreements with the Department of Defense and Kentucky’s Cabinet for Economic Development. Learn more at

About Turner Construction

Turner Construction is one of the largest construction companies in the country with regional offices in Lexington, Louisville and Cincinnati. The Construction Diversity Accelerator is based on the company’s acclaimed Turner School of Construction Management program, which is the oldest community outreach program in Turner’s history. It was initiated in 1969 to address the needs of diverse suppliers, and soon became an opportunity to develop strategic business relationships with minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, small and underrepresented construction-related firms. Since then, Turner has been committed to intentionally creating opportunities that lead to greater equity and inclusion in the construction industry. You can learn more about Turner's commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion here.

About the University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky is a public, land grant university dedicated to improving people’s lives through excellence in education, research and creative work, service and health care. As Kentucky's flagship institution, the university plays a critical leadership role by promoting diversity, inclusion, economic development and human well-being.


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