By Oscar Perry Abello.
Yolanda Jones gets to the office at Yolanda’s Construction Administration & Traffic Control (YCAT-C), which she founded in 2010, every day at 6 a.m. There’s a lot happening.
YCAT-C has $6 million in contracts earned or lined up for this year, its biggest year so far. She’s got something in the pipeline that could add another $10 million in annual revenues and perhaps 20 more employees in the next year. And, oh, NBA star LeBron James gave Jones a shout-out recently on Facebook and Twitter. She won a small business contest he held last fall.
That’s a long way from the $200 Jones used to buy a pair of flags for the company’s first traffic control contract back in 2010. YCAT-C workers direct traffic and pedestrians around construction sites.
The $200 was the money Jones had left over after burying her son, Leonard Bradley. Police shot and killed him during a chase in November 2009. He was unarmed, and 16 years old at the time, and Jones didn’t want to see it happen to anyone else.
The company’s main office is in San Francisco’s Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, a historically working-class neighborhood of color where Jones grew up, that the city now hopes to change. The goal, housing officials told The New York Times, “is to reinvent an isolated island of poverty into a ‘mixed-income’ neighborhood with sophisticated architecture and a coherent urban design.” Development dollars are pouring in, and Jones is making sure that her neighbors and other underrepresented people get a piece of that pie.