Initiative builds new career opportunities for local construction workers at Norton West Louisville Hospital

A workforce development initiative emphasizing inclusion is providing new construction careers for local residents

Dreams are being built from the ground up at Norton West Louisville Hospital. The new hospital is taking shape at the corner of 28th Street and West Broadway, and lives are already being transformed through some of the construction work happening on the job site.

Houston Briscoe is from West Louisville and grew up around the corner from the new hospital, located at the Norton Healthcare Goodwill Opportunity Campus. The first-year plumbing apprentice, employed by Hussung Mechanical Contractors, has been working to install plumbing inside the hospital.

“I always looked at construction sites and imagined myself working on them, and was always involved in working with my hands and stuff like that, so this is a good fit,” he said.

Houston is part of the Urban Workforce Development Initiative (UWDI), a program developed by the hospital’s general contractor, Harmon/Messer. In partnership with Norton Healthcare and the Louisville Urban League, the initiative invests in the career growth of minorities and women through workforce development and diversity in the construction industry.

“I see my future pursuing this career, [to] try to take it to the next level and see how far I can take it,” Houston said. “It’s been a big change in my life, and it’s taken me in a good direction.”

Norton Healthcare has been as inclusive as possible in the construction of the new hospital and to invite the West Louisville community to “build with us.”

“It was very important for us to get buy-in from the (West Louisville) community, and I don’t think there’s any other way to get better buy-in than to have the community be involved in the construction of the project,” said Anthony Mathis, Norton Healthcare system director for sustainability and supplier diversity. “The exciting thing is that we’re building more than just a healthcare facility. We’re building hope, compassion, and a brighter future for this community.”

The UWDI program aligns with this mission.

“We create a pipeline directly from West Louisville into these high-paying career opportunities that provide benefits — health, dental, vision — in addition to high-paying paychecks,” said Stanley Warrenhuffman, Messer Economic Inclusion Manager.

After the Louisville Urban League identifies job candidates, they complete the Kentuckiana Builds program and are hired by a local construction company. As part of the UWDI program, workers receive additional workforce development and support in their new construction career.

“Our goal is to find individuals who want to show up every day on time, and they’re committed to that, and to give them an opportunity to show that, and earn their way into the trades,” Stanley said.

Norton West Louisville Hospital

We are committed to building up the West Louisville community. Our new hospital, located at 28th Street and West Broadway, is set to open in November 2024.

Learn more about the hospital

Building full-time, sustainable careers

Harmon/Messer notes multiple successes with its UWDI program within the Norton West Louisville Hospital project, which currently boasts a 63% employee retention rate.

So far, of the 23 candidates selected by the Louisville Urban League for the program, 15 of them are currently working on the job site. Of those employees, 73% of them are registered in apprenticeship programs, which are federally accredited apprenticeship opportunities that provide a higher trajectory for long-term careers.

“I feel honor [in] doing work that supports and helps my community,” said Bryson Roberson, who is working on the hospital as an electrician through the UWDI program. “It feels more like a service to work on something that’s going to be helpful to people in this area of West Louisville.”

Bryson graduated from high school last year and understands the impact of working on a project that will have a lasting impact on the surrounding neighborhoods. The project has changed his life, too, through creating a new career opportunity and direction for his adult life.

“It’s given me the tools to know how electricians work successfully and how good electrician work is done,” he said. “It’s a long-term goal to make an honest career out of my life, despite what I’ve been through, and I just give all the glory to the man above, because he is part of the reason why I’m here.”

A local team

Much of the initiative’s success is attributed to local partnerships and collaboration between Norton Healthcare, Harmon/Messer, Louisville Urban League and several Louisville-based organizations focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Our team is local. We have boots on the ground; we understand the community. We understand the community’s needs, and we brought all of that together to ensure those needs were met on this project,” said Sonya Walton, Messer’s Vice President of Economic Inclusion. “This is not a project where it’s here one day and then the impact is gone when the project is over. No, we’re creating long-term impact, sustainable impact in this community.”

Local community partners include OneWest, a nonprofit that focuses on economic development and community revitalization in West Louisville; NTC, a Louisville-based, female-owned traffic control business that provides second-chance opportunities for individuals; and 7PM Group, a minority-owned consulting firm and diversity champion that works in the construction sector to connect minority-owned businesses with project owners and contractors.

“Norton Healthcare has set a new standard for inclusion,” said Carl Brazley, principal of 7PM Group.

Building up people for years to come

When Norton West Louisville Hospital opens, it will bring more jobs, healing and hope to the residents of West Louisville. Meanwhile, workforce development efforts have already created opportunities for lifelong residents, like Houston. He can use the skills he learned on the hospital site to build his career in the construction industry.

Thanks to his construction job, Houston says his life has changed significantly over the past year — financially, as well as how he’s able to show up for his family.

“I’m able to be there more, and do more for them, and be the man I need to be,” he said.

Norton West Louisville Hospital is expected to open in November 2024. The hospital will include an emergency room, primary care and specialized care services, inpatient and outpatient services, community space and a pharmacy.

Schedule an Appointment

Select an appointment date and time from available spots listed below.