MWBE Spotlight: Thomas 11 Development, African American-Owned Construction Company, Completes Park Row Drive Sidewalk Project in Arlington
By Susan Schrock, Office of Communication
Posted on January 18, 2022, January 18, 2022

MWBE Spotlight

The new stretch of sidewalk along West Park Row Drive is more than just a safe, pleasant pathway for the surrounding neighborhood to enjoy.

It’s the first City of Arlington public infrastructure project for Thomas 11 Development, an African American-owned general construction company in Dallas that formed in 2017. It’s also the first City of Arlington Public Works and Transportation capital improvement project to be led by a minority-owned prime contractor in recent years.

Over the past five months, Thomas 11 Development has constructed the pedestrian path along the north and south side of West Park Row Drive between Johnson Creek and Collins Street. The improvements, requested by the Heart of Arlington Neighborhood Association, included filling in missing sections of sidewalk, building new sections of sidewalk, adding ADA compliant pedestrian ramps, and reconstructing some driveway approaches to create a smooth pathway for pedestrians.

Jabbar Thomas, who spent 25 years in construction before starting Thomas 11 Development, said the Arlington project is a great addition to his company’s growing project portfolio. His team has also done work for the city of Fort Worth, Mesquite, Balch Springs, Greenville, Denton and McKinney.

“I am excited that the City of Arlington is making this kind of commitment to intentionally target MWBE businesses with opportunities with contracts that would allow small business to bid and win contracts that bonding companies would be willing to bond small MWBE companies on projects,” Thomas said. “Half the struggle is getting bonding companies to bond MWBE business that are new like mines and the other struggle is to be given an opportunity to prove MWBE companies can do the work.”

Members of the Thomas 11 Development crew attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony Jan. 14 and celebrated the completion of the project with the City and Heart of Arlington Neighborhood Association members.

“Whenever you have an opportunity to do work with any Public Works Department, that is giving you more credibility and more experience. With a lot of these bid opportunities, they want to know if you have done these types of projects before,” Thomas said. “That is what benefits me as a small company moving up the ranks, trying to break ground so I can expand and grow,” Thomas said.

Public Works and Transportation Director Keith Brooks said “We are proud of the partnership we have with Thomas 11 Development and the significance of having an African American owned general contracting company providing a great service to our community and leading the way with our efforts to encourage more MWBE contractors to do business with the City of Arlington.”

Thomas said the Arlington project is helping individuals on his team gain life-changing professional experience. One of the reasons Thomas said he started his own company was to help people with non-violent criminal backgrounds who have had difficulty finding regular employment. Thomas, who graduated with an engineering degree from Texas Tech University and spent part of his career working for the Texas Department of Transportation, said his company teaches its workers skills ranging from site grading, equipment operating and concrete finishing.

“I try to give them an opportunity so they can feel like they have self-worth and not feel like society is against them. Everybody needs to feel like they have self-worth, or feel like they are contributing to society in a positive way. They have a sense of pride and feel good about something they built. I hear them often say I built that sidewalk or wall,” Thomas said. “With contracts like this in Arlington, it gives me the opportunity to gainfully employ these people and provide an avenue for them to contribute back to society and not always feel like society has to take care of them. If I can keep winning contracts, I can keep these men employed.”

Park Row Drive Sidewalk Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony, Jan. 14, 2022

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