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The Washington Business Journal has finally released the full interview with Bryan “Scottie” Irving, the man behind Blue Skye Development and—-surprise, surprise—-a Columbia Heights native. I’ve written about Blue Skye a few times. Last month, Blue Skye was picked to build a 26-unit condo project in Brightwood, and along with Donatelli Development, it was selected to construct a $108 million mixed-used project at a District-owned site near the Minnesota Avenue Metrorail Station. It was also part of a team interested in developing the ambiguously named “Hill East Waterfront.” Irving has a varied past: he became involved the building/construction world as a high schooler, then he worked as a sports agents for a while, then he was a teacher at a local construction academy. I found this part of the exchange particularly interesting…
How has the Certified Business Enterprise program (for small, minority-owned and D.C.-based business) helped you? It’s been helpful in the sense that people take a look under the cover more, instead of just taking the contracts and running out the door. Now they have to take a look at us, and as they take that look they find out there’s more there than just a building. There is something that you can grab on to, some sustainability in us, some good fabric to us. So I think the program can be tremendous because D.C. spends close to $1 billion a year on construction and other goods and services, and we return that tax dollar to the people in D.C.
Critics of the CBE program say that people get deals because they are politically connected, not because they earn the work. Do you see that? I have never seen it happen. To be honest, I don’t think enough of us get work, so no in no way do I see that. You can go around to all the contracts that are given and see who is doing the contracts. I mean actually really go down and see who is getting the library jobs, the development deals — we’re not getting them. CBEs rarely get contracts over $3 or $4 million, because of bonding capacity. I won a contract for D.C. Public Schools to do electrical upgrades, went in low on the bid, won on the contract, did as much as everybody did — we busted our asses to do that work, night, days, there was not a time of day they didn’t call us that we didn’t deliver. But that was by a stroke of luck.