After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, President & CEO of KBK Enterprises, Keith Key headed down south to help as part of the National Baptist Convention, an African American religious group for which he was a developer. While helping out he came into contact with the BW Cooper Resident Management Corporation. That group and KBK Enterprises decided to form a relationship so they could find a way to redevelop the Katrina ravaged BW Cooper Community. Two years later KBK was selected as the developer for the revitalization and redevelopment of BW Cooper, now renamed, Marrero Commons. This 1500 unit, 55 acre site near the New Orleans Superdome is being redeveloped into a mixed income community that includes affordable, public and market rate housing. The total project cost for Phase 1 is estimated at $150 million. Below are highlights about The Foundation’s work at Marrero Commons.
- Coordinated an oral history project exhibition and documentary highlighting the past, present and future of what was once called the Calliope Housing Development (Marrero Commons). This exhibition detailed the history of the housing development from its inception in 1939 to its renaming to B.W. Cooper in 1981 and its transformation post-Katrina to the new Marrero Commons. Xavier and Dillard University students participated in organizing and gathering footage for the exhibition.
- Recognized by the Secretary of HUD in August 2011 as having the largest percentage of Section 3 hiring in the country for a project of this size. Hired 164 Section 3 employees.
- Currently have the largest MWDBE contracting in the city’s history at the project. The Foundation awarded over $33 million in MWBE contracts.
- The KBK Foundation partnered with General Contractor Gibbs Construction to provide job skills education and training to Section 3 residents. The Core Skills Training Program was designed to address soft and hard skills necessary for all employees. The goal of the program was to provide a solid foundation of general knowledge needed by construction workers. Topics covered in the program’s six week duration included: Basic Safety, Construction Math, Introduction to Hand Tools, Introduction to Power Tools, Introduction to Blueprints, Basic Communication Skills and Basic Employment Skills.
- Held Subcontractor and Supplier Conference for MBE, DBE, WBE and Section 3 certified businesses to inform them of what bid opportunities were available at Marrero Commons and how to apply for these opportunities.
- Partnered with subcontractors on the site to offer apprenticeship programs to Section 3 employees. Some of these programs led to permanent employment.
- Partnered with BW Cooper Resident Management Corporation and Gibbs Construction to give back to school supplies to youth in grades K-8.