MCAA Member Business Opportunity in the Dominican Republic
Construct low income housing in the Dominican Republic
By Roy Swindal
MCAA members have an opportunity to participate in a business opportunity in the Dominican Republic and be a part of constructing low income housing on behalf of the Dominican government. MCAA member Roy Swindal of Masonry Arts summarizes below the details of several months' investigation work which has led to a formation meeting being planned of those members interested in participating in a group venture. If you are interested, please contact Jeff Buczkiewicz at the MCAA Office today at 800-536-2225.
Over the course of the last two months, the Board of the MCAA has met several times with the Ambassador to the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations, Dr. Juan R. Avita Ceballos, herein referred to as the Ambassador, along with the Secretario de Estado de Interior y Policia, Mr. Franklin Almeyada Rancier, herein referred to as Mr. Secretario, who is considering the Presidency in 2012. The assistant to the Ambassador, Mr. Juan Jose Garcia, herein referred to as Mr. Garcia, was the initial contact made possible through Matt Keelen, our lobbyist in Washington, DC. A luncheon was set up through the Ambassador’s office on July 7th, 2010 by Mr. Garcia. Mackie Bounds, Paul Odom, Steve Borman, Matt Keelen and Jeff Buczkiewicz attended on behalf of the MCAA. The purpose of the luncheon was to formally introduce the MCAA to the Ambassador and to the Secretario de Estado de Interior. The meeting went very well. Mackie Bounds invited the Secretario de Estado de Interior to visit his ranch and the Secretario de Estado de Interior, in turn, extended an initiation to Mackie and the MCAA to visit the Dominican Republic for the purpose of allowing him to show us his country and to discuss working together to create an environment whereby the citizens of the Dominican Republic could build their own communities through craft training and management provided by the MCAA consortium.
The Ambassador suggested a follow-up through Matt Keelen to confirm MCAA’s travel dates to the Dominican Republic for meetings with the Secretario de Estado de Interior along with other members of the Dominican Republic’s Presidential Cabinet to discuss details and potential opportunities. On August 16th representatives of the MCAA, Roy Swindal and Jeff Buczkiewicz, arrived in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, the capital city, to continue dialog with the Dominican Federal Government. On the evening of August 16th the Ambassador held a briefing for representatives of the MCAA and two other parties interested in work in the Dominican Republic. The parties reviewed the agenda for the next two days to allow each side adequate time to prepare questions and comments for one another.
The first day, August 17th, we spent most of the day meeting with members of the Dominican Cabinet. In the late afternoon we met with the United States Ambassador to the Dominican Republic and his special envoy to Haiti and USAID. The final activity of the day was a meeting with the Executive Vice-president of the Santo Domingo Chamber of Commerce, our United States Chamber of Commerce representative and the president of the Asociacion Dominicana De Constructores y Promotores De Viviendas, Inc. (ACOPROVI), an organization similar to the AGC or ABC in the United States. They briefed us on working conditions, labor wages, skill levels, training, sub-contractors, general contractors, language and nationality of the majority of the Dominican workforce.
The second day, August 18th, we had breakfast with the Secretario de Estado de Interior. He was extremely pleased that the MCAA had accepted his invitation to visit the Dominican to see firsthand the opportunities available for the organization and its members in the Dominican Republic. After breakfast he invited us to a televised news conference. At this news conference, he introduced the MCAA and explained the reason that we made the trip to the Dominican Republic. In the afternoon a bus chartered by the Secretario drove us to his first proto-type village which was in progress and near completion. When he stepped out of the car, all of the people working in the village swarmed around him. The gift and relationship he enjoys with the people of this nation is truly amazing. It is more than evident that they believe in him and trust that he will honor his commitments. This was a relatively small village, but it gave us some idea of what will be expected. The Secretario made it very clear that there is $2.2 billion in a pension fund that will be available for this housing initiative over the coming years. He further explained that this money would be used as guarantees of payment to the MCAA for any loans that are issued. Ultimately, the government of the Dominican Republic will be the guarantor of the loan.
In short, the Secretary was interested in the MCAA participating in the building of low-income housing for the less fortunate citizens of the Dominican Republic. The housing will be built by local citizens who will actually live in these particular local communities. These citizens will be trained by an MCAA consortium, for lack of a better word at this time. These communities are intended to be self-supporting with farms, community centers, etc. Our participation would not be limited solely to the actual construction of the exterior of the homes. The commitment is for the total infrastructure of the entire community.
The government will most likely select the land to be utilized and then give us the go ahead to proceed with Program Management for the village including: budgeting, management / hiring of consultants, infrastructure development, structured training programs for all trades, construction infrastructure including engineering, design, architecture, building construction, civil, site work and any other activities that are required to create a self-sustained community.
During our various meetings we discussed the possible magnitude in dollars of the first village as somewhere between 4 and 7 million US Dollars. In essence, this represents somewhere between 150 and 250 homes with the appropriate infrastructure. MCAA member financing will be required for participation in the plan. It will also be our job to locate entities that will participate in the financing of this venture with the guarantees by the Dominican Republic government. Ultimately we committed to return to the United States to develop a plan to train their people, manage the building of their communities and locate entities that are willing to finance this venture across the globe. We told them we would return to the Dominican Republic within 30 to 60 days with a plan, albeit in its infancy, complete with possible participants and any other information we assemble between now and then.
This is an enormous undertaking if we choose to participate. This, eventually, could develop into a 4, 6 or even a 10 year commitment. Similar opportunities are also going to be available in Haiti in the efforts to rebuild that country.
We, as an industry and as global citizens, have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference in a country where the majority of the people finally have real hope to live in a civil and safe home in a community where they can thrive, develop and sustain themselves. The MCAA and its members can be the catalyst in these efforts.
If you are interested in hearing more about this venture please contact Jeff Buczkiewicz at the MCAA national office.
About the Author
Roy Swindal is the President of Masonry Arts, Inc. Roy has worked as a journeyman bricklayer and superintendant while developing skills in estimating, project management and sales. His expertise in the selection and procurement of all types of stone throughout the world have earned him the reuptation as a reliable partner in the field of stone contracting. Roy has served as the Region B Vice President for the Mason Contractors Association of America.