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Leveraging a Strategic Approach to Technology Infrastructure

Level-1 is not your typical technology systems integrator. As a minority business enterprise, the company draws on decades of experience to help both governments and the private sector plan and execute highly complex migrations and upgrades.

Much has changed since Thomas D. McElroy II founded Level-1 global solutions to provide a strategic perspective on mission-critical tech operations as a minority business enterprise (MBE) back in 2001. Yet, while the Level-1 team has grown to stay on the cutting edge of developments in technology infrastructure, there is one respect in which things have stayed the same: MBE's are simply few and far between in the tech world.

Case in point - according to information from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, there are half as many African Americans and Hispanics in tech as in the rest of the private sector, and Chicago is no exception. In fact, Level-1 is still Cisco System's only minority partner in Chicago.

The 'Risk' Perspective

Of course, McElroy doesn't shy away from being unique, even when that means taking a risk. As he sees it, the person who doesn't take chances has to take whatever is left when everyone else has already chosen. This perspective has made Level-1 a decisive actor on projects that span every level of government, in addition to organizations including United Airlines, the new John H Stroger Cook County Hospital, and the Chicago Housing  Authority. The team is licensed to conduct business in the City of Chicago, Cook County and Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana.

Clients approach Level-1 for expertise in five areas:

  1. Inter-operable technology solutions delivery
  2. Technology advisory services
  3. Extended Sourcing SolutionsTM
  4. IT commissioning and periodic re-certification
  5. Emergency Management Infrastructure (Level-1 EMITM)

In order to keep abreast of developments in these rapidly changing fields, the team's certified professionals have amassed impressive qualifications to ensure the quality of every solution that they design. Level-1 team members have earned recognition of Registered Communications Distribution Designers (RCDDs), Microsoft and Gold Partners (MCPs), and Project Management Professionals (PMPs).

What's more, McElroy's decades in tech space have led him to establish strategic partnerships with reputable organizations including Johnson Controls, Siemens, Genetec, and Sentinel Technologies. After all, every seasoned leader knows that no team can do it alone. This level of expertise enhances Level-1's ability to offer insight into highly complex system designs, migrations, and upgrades. When it comes to inter-operable technology solutions, there's no asset quite like insight.

Insight-Driven Support

Level-1 specializes in the design, implementation, and management of mission critical technology infrastructure. This requires alignment around a carefully devised plan - that's where insight comes in. The team partners with clients to define the mission, create a custom design, and execute functional testing to ensure performance. By embracing a structured approach, McElroy's team delivers infrastructure across industries and settings, including offices, public safety, healthcare and educational facilities, data centers, and security and surveillance systems. In fact, Level-1 currently runs the second-largest camera network in all of Chicago.

Following the entire life cycle of technology infrastructure means stepping in when unexpected events happen. That's why the professionals at Level-1 strive to continuously improve design expertise, information-sharing, and situational awareness. Robust organizations are simply better prepared to respond to emergency and disaster recovery efforts. For McElroy and his team, it's not only a matter of technology infrastructure, or EMITM  for short. By providing strategic leadership across technical and business functions, Level-1 prepares organizations for the unexpected.

EMITM isn't the only structured process that is distinctive to Level-1's approach. They also offer a process for what they call Extended Sourcing SolutionsTM. These help companies and government bodies identify the technology resources needed to achieve their goals. So far, Level-1 has applied this approach to enhance the results delivered to and by the U.S. State Department, air transport providers, the Department of Homeland Security, local law enforcement agencies, and commercial real estate developers.

A Community Difference

It shouldn't be surprising that the distinct methods - and extensive certifications - amassed by Level-1 associates have translated into real-world accolades. McElroy, for example, has been recognized as an outstanding business leader by the Small Business Association, the University of Illinois, and the Chicago Urban League. He also had an active role on the advisory board of the Chicago Academy for Advanced Technology (CAAT), a new public school that prepares students for careers in technology. His honors include being named as one of the Chicago Defender's 2010 Men of Excellence.

Yet, Level-1's impact goes far beyond technology. McElroy is recognized as a noted member of Chicago's philanthropic community, having served on the boards of the Chicago Central Area Committee (CCAC), the Chicago Community Trust, the Business Leadership Council, and Chicago African-Americans in Commercial Real Estate. In addition, he serves on the program and gala committees of Black Creativity, an organization that recognizes the accomplishments of African-Americans in the sciences. McElroy also leverages his expertise in support of the Technology Committee for the Black Ensemble Theater.

In the coming years, Level-1 aims to continue making it's mark as an example of best practices in technology infrastructure in Chicago and as a driving force among certified minority business enterprises. If all goes as planned, they expect to provide technology infrastructure design and systems integration professional services for every mega development project in the City of Chicago. Still, McElroy has even bigger plans: he wants to take his teams to the next level, where they will deliver high tech infrastructure projects that span beyond Illinois and United States. The growing economies and the technology needs of Africa, China, the Middle East, and Asia seem like the perfect setting for Level-1. After all, they deliver global solutions.