On October 10th the OSDBU Great Lakes Small Business Transportation Resource Center (SBTRC) co-hosted the Great Lakes Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Summit with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) at the University of Illinois Chicago. FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez provided keynote remarks to lead off the day- long event, which also included leadership from the Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin DOTs.
FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez offers keynote remarks.
Administrator Mendez welcomed the participants and highlighted DOT's commitment to small businesses, saying, "What we will deliver from a transportation perspective is transportation that is safer, reduces congestion, and grows jobs. We need the small and disadvantaged business community to be part of this. At DOT this starts at the top with Secretary LaHood who is committed to making sure DBEs participate. Using DBEs isn't just the right thing to do, it's the smart thing to do."
The Summit provided an opportunity to establish a dialogue between transportation agencies, DBEs, and prime contractors. It was also a chance to share best practices from across the region as well as provide information on programs from a variety of Federal, state, and city agencies. In particular Administrator Mendez spotlighted the DOT Bonding Education Program, which will return to Chicago in January 2013, commenting, that "The DOT Bonding Education Program is an opportunity for you to grow your business, and I encourage everyone to take advantage of this program."
The Summit included a DBE Town Hall meeting as well as panels on Major Projects, DBE Supportive Services, DBE Rule Changes, Bonding and Financing, and Mentor Protégé Programs. Over 100 small businesses, representing construction, engineering, design, and other professional services attended.
The SBTRC for the Great Lakes region is operated by the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. OSDBU maintains eleven of these regional offices covering all 50 states to provide financial, procurement, and technical assistance to small and disadvantaged businesses seeking to work with DOT and its grantees. For more information about the SBTRC program or to contact the center in your region, please visit: http://www.dot.gov/osdbu/regional-assistance-division