GMA Construction, James Tyree Award winner, helps transform communities

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A company with a philanthropic focus is making Chicago proud. GMA Construction won the Chicago Chamber of Commerce James Tyree award, an honor that would help continue the company's focus on helping people and transforming communities.

Born and raised in Chicago, GMA Construction President and CEO Cornelius Griggs has come a long way from where he began.

"I grew up in Chicago, on the west side of town. I spent most of my years in the Austin and Cabrini Green communities. I grew up a ward of the state, through the Department of Children and Family Services," Griggs said.

His childhood shaped the work he does today, starting his own company and focusing on construction projects that will benefit under-served communities.

"The projects we focus on impact our community. Growing up in the community, what I notice, is that we had a lack in education, affordable housing and healthcare," Griggs said.

Two of their current projects include transitional housing in East Garfield Park and a learning center in Brighton Park.

"This building is used for people trying to make a transition from living in the streets to getting a job and getting a better life. We're essentially upgrading what it was before. We're making it a better place to live for the occupants that live in it," said Nnamdi Ogbuagu, assistant project manager at GMA Construction.

"A lot of people work, so they need support for their children. As a parent, I know how important that is. This is a nice, new, safe, brightly-lit facility for the kids to learn and be active thought the day," GMA Construction Vice President John Adams Jr. said.

GMA construction hoped to take home the James Tyree Award and the $50,000 grand prize, to help to continue investing in the community through internships, job training and hiring people within the neighborhoods they serve.

"That $50,000 is going to help us increase our pool of applicants, so we can teach them about this field. We want to bring in applicants from communities I grew up in, Austin and Cabrini Green, and give those folks an opportunity to succeed," Griggs said.

GMA Construction is also a veteran-owned company that is focused on hiring our nation's heroes.

The winner of the James Tyree Award was announced Tuesday at the Chicagoland Chamber's 114th annual meeting.

Two other companies were finalists: Ink Factory and Landmark Pest Management. CLICK HERE to read more about all three finalists.
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