Columbia, SC – Paragon Builders, a minority-owned construction firm, recently completed a community center, the Whittaker Center, in Orangeburg, SC. The project got off to a swift start in July 2019, but strategic adjustments had to be made when COVID-19 struck.
“As a construction contractor, we were deemed essential workers. However, the COVID-19 outbreak presented some unique challenges, said Paragon project manager, Tracey Scoville. “We had to schedule tasks differently so that trades that usually worked together, like the plumber and electrician, were not performing simultaneously,”
To accomplish this, Scoville explained one subcontractor worked on the interior of the building while another worked on the exterior. They also staggered scheduling over an extended workday.
Upon completion of the project, Paragon owner, Stephon Edwards said, “A team approach, including experienced personnel, cooperation and constant communication made this a successful project.”
Edwards believes that the facility’s structure and its strategic location (proximity to Whittaker Elementary School and surrounding residential areas) make it a good option should additional capacity be needed to confront the COVID-19 pandemic. The open floorplan readily lends itself to being converted into an overflow medical facility. Regional Medical Center in Orangeburg is one of the few facilities continuing to serve the area and surrounding rural counties. This facility, according to Edwards, would be a great supplement, if needed.
Working with Orangeburg County Councilman Willie B. Owens and the community, Paragon designed and constructed the $631,210 facility. The 5,000 square feet facility includes three multi-purpose rooms, office space, and a fully functional kitchen, complete with stove, refrigerator, and double-compartment sink. The community center is a wood frame construction with brick veneer and shingle roof.
In addition to Paragon Builders, the project included subcontractors for HVAC, plumbing, electrical, flooring, carpentry, and concrete. The County performed the site work, clearing the site and maintaining the installed lawn and shrubbery.
Edwards said overall, the project was a great example of how Paragon Builders partnered with the local community to create a successful experience for all parties. Most of the construction activities were performed within six months. Extended manufacturing delays due to the COVID-19 public health crisis extended the final close-out. But all in all, the project came in under budget and within the agreed schedule.
South Carolina MBDA Business Center assisted Paragon with financial counseling, business development, and acquiring personnel and subcontractors. Of the Center, Edwards said, “Its work makes a real difference for minority firms.”
About the MBDA Business Center
The mission of the MBDA Business Center – Columbia, SC is to assist Minority Business Enterprises compete in the global economy and to stimulate the national and local economy through job creation. To fulfill this mission, we assist MBEs with access to contracts and capital, strategic business counseling, and becoming export-ready. For more information on the MBDA Business Center and its services, visit ColumbiaMBDACenter.com or call (803) 743-1152.