WisBusiness: the Podcast with Chris Mambu Rasch, Building Advantage

This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: the Podcast” is with Chris Mambu Rasch, executive director of Building Advantage. 

The organization is a joint labor management council for the union commercial construction industry, which works to advance union interests and help them compete for work. Rasch discusses the group’s work along with the latest developments in the industry. 

“Making sure we have a ready, able, diverse, qualified workforce to be able to enter the union building trades industry, so we do marketing to youth and individuals to enter the trades, we help with career fairs,” he said. 

Building Advantage also helps resolve conflicts outside of contract negotiations and bargaining, conducts policy and advocacy work that “levels the playing field” for union construction at both the state and federal level, Rasch said. And it plays a role in financing projects with union funding sources, such as union pension funds. 

“We have a number of projects actually in Milwaukee where that’s happening … I want to grow that, so we’re looking to start our own fund to help developers with their capital stack, in terms of trying to provide some equity,” he said. “We just actually got our first $10 million committed to that, and so I’m looking to grow that fund to $100 million over the next three years or so.” 

Rasch also weighs in on the recent pledge by Wisconsin’s major utilities to use union labor for clean energy projects, as well as the billions in federal infrastructure funding coming down the pipeline. 

“It’s a huge impact,” he said. “This is really a new day for construction … We’re really at the forefront of all of this work.” 

Listen to the podcast below, sponsored by UW-Madison: