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SEEKING CHANGE, from page 7

where success is celebrated together all contribute to a happy workplace. “We celebrate our successes together, but also support each other when we fail,” he says. A flexible work policy is in place too. While they had a limited telecommuting policy before COVID-19, the pandemic helped them to expand this policy and recognize that if telecommuting is managed properly, it can be as productive and, sometimes, more productive by allowing staff who want to work from home to do so. Currently, about 15 percent of the company works 100 percent remotely, and another 10 percent to 15 percent are hybrid. “This change has not been a hindrance to growth and productivity,” Al-Turk says. “On the contrary, it’s opened new opportunities to add talented team members that we would not be successful in hiring if everyone had to work in the office.” IMPROVING GLOBAL RELATIONS. Outside of the office, equity isn’t just a word to check off the list when it comes to company culture. Al-Turk believes that you can’t achieve world peace – a much loftier goal – without justice and equity. Waggoner is focused on what it can do locally – here in the U.S. – to meet that end. Waggoner assists marginalized communities that were left behind in funding priorities to secure their fair share of state and federal resources to lift up their communities. They assist these communities in demonstrating how environmental, social, and economic historic disparities caused significant infrastructure decay within their communities that severely and negatively impact the quality of life of their citizens. “While [growth] can bring excitement and opportunities, it can also add stress and anxiety. It’s important to have a communication plan in place for staff so they understand their role.” Two recent projects illustrate that commitment to these efforts. The first project is a pro bono community service project in partnership with the International Museum of Muslim Cultures, which is leading more than 15 local non-profit organizations to improve the quality of life of the citizens of Jackson, Mississippi, through building the Beloved Community which Dr. King envisioned, but never attained. This is an ambitious, 10-year, integrated, and transformative community-based project that starts with a two-year pilot program in Ward 2 of Jackson, Mississippi. The City Council of Jackson, with Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba’s lead, unanimously approved IMMC’s Resolution for A City of Jackson Beloved Community – An Integrated Transformation Pilot Project on March 1, 2022. Waggoner’s role is to support IMMC in identifying the necessary funding resources from state and federal government and philanthropic and business communities. It will also lead the business entrepreneurship, economic development, and infrastructure components of the project.

Waggoner has provided planning, design, construction administration, and strategic support services on behalf of the DeSoto County Regional Utility Authority since 1998.

Anticipated outcomes are improvements in education, innovation/technology, criminal justice, poverty, health, housing, and economic development, as well as physical infrastructure (water and transportation) – overall quality of life. Another project is the Highland Commerce Connector in Ridgeland, Mississippi. Situated between the cities of Jackson and Madison, Ridgeland’s development began as a valuable area for commerce and trade along the Natchez Trace Parkway and advanced as a central point between Memphis and New Orleans on the Illinois Central Railroad. Connection and accessibility have played a pivotal role in this growth, and as the needs of the community changed with a rising economy, the city expanded around major transportation thoroughfares that cross the city. These thoroughfares have served as primary routes for many residents, but have significantly prevented access and gain to lower-income communities. Tougaloo College, a historically Black college and university founded in 1869, has been divided by Interstate 220 and isolated by Highway 51 from major employment areas in the City of Ridgeland. Waggoner has supported the City of Ridgeland in equity efforts regarding Tougaloo’s connectivity to economic-rich portions of the city, including a recent Fiscal Year 2022 Rebuilding American Infrastructure Through Sustainability and Equity grant application to create a two-lane, 2.6-mile frontage road connection with a 10-foot-wide multi- use trail. The Highland Commerce Connector will increase equity and accessibility, providing development opportunities for Tougaloo College and employment opportunities for many persons from areas of persistent poverty as well as promoting safety through the increase of multi-use trails and bike routes for recreational use that also provide access to employment areas. “My goal is for Waggoner to become a reflection of the state and country we serve, work, and live in,” Al-Turk says.

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