The U.S. Department of Transportation announced $11.6 million in grants to help disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) compete for federal highway contracts in 30 states and Puerto Rico. DOT also announced $5.9 million in grants to support transportation-related job training in 19 states and Washington, D.C.
The DBE grants from the Federal Highway Administration’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise/Supportive Services (DBE/SS) program provide federal aid to DBE firms to improve their ability to compete for and fulfill federal highway contracts. “Giving these small businesses the assistance they need to compete for federal highway contracts creates jobs and ultimately helps taxpayers by reducing project costs,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Any way you look at them, these grants are a ‘win-win’ for the American people.”
Since1982, the Federal Highway Administration has promoted the participation of DBEs in federal-aid highway contracts through state-managed programs. The DBE/SS grants are part of an ongoing federal effort to help state departments of transportation train certified DBE firms on a wide range of business management practices, including procurement assistance and guidance on securing bonding. The goal of the program is to help DBEs successfully compete for federal highway projects. “Helping DBE firms and their workers enriches the competition for federal highway contracts,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez. “Grants like these will help people find jobs and are an important part of economic recovery.”
The on-the-job training grants from FHWA’s On the Job Training/ Supportive Services (OJT/SS) program will fund apprenticeships and training opportunities for underrepresented or disadvantaged people pursuing careers in transportation, engineering or construction. “America can never have enough well-trained employees to keep our transportation system running smoothly,” LaHood says. “These grants will help put people back to work and train those who keep America moving.”
Created in 1998, the OJT/SS program promotes training opportunities for women and minorities who continue to be underrepresented in the highway construction industry’s skilled and semi-skilled crafts, such as masonry and carpentry. “Ensuring transportation workers are properly trained is an important part of economic recovery,” Mendez says. “These grants will help us build a skilled work force to keep our nation’s highway system the best in the world.”