Chesapeake native and NSU grad helps company score bridge-tunnel project contract
Blackstar Diversified Enterprises, a Black-owned small business with headquarters in Baltimore and New Orleans, is providing key electrical components for much of the construction work on the $3.8 billion Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel expansion project. And the company hopes that the contract will be the first of many it secures in Hampton Roads.
“I’m super proud of this particular project,” Calhoun said.
Blackstar’s leadership combines decades of experience and the foundational education from two historically black colleges and universities. Founder, owner and principal officer Hugh Blackwell earned his bachelor of science degree from Howard University. After working for years for companies like Siemens, Blackwell started Blackstar in 2016.
After finishing school at Norfolk State in 2000, Calhoun moved to the Washington, D.C., area and worked for companies like Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems in software development and management consulting. After a few years, he shifted to full-time entrepreneurship.
“I decided that I get it. I can do this,’” Calhoun said.
That decision led Calhoun on a path toward Blackstar. After meeting at church and working on a few projects together, Calhoun joined Blackwell as the company’s vice president of marketing and innovation.
The company specializes in helping facilitate infrastructure projects in Virginia, Maryland and the D.C. area. It makes electrical equipment at its New Orleans location for use in everything from car tunnels to the Washington Metro. In Hampton Roads, Blackstar has sold electrical equipment for U.S. Navy dry docks. The company also makes and sells traffic equipment like traffic signals, traffic control cabinets and parking gates.