U.S. Transportation Deputy Secretary John Porcari met Wednesday, Sept. 1, with owners of Phoenix area minority- and women-owned businesses to help improve small businesses’ ability to compete for federal transportation contracts and to encourage more women and minorities to pursue careers in highway construction.
“These businesses must have a role in building the infrastructure that will carry America into the 21st century,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “Arizona’s small business community is alive with willing workers, great ideas and a can-do spirit, and these are qualities we want to put to work on federal-aid highway projects.”
The workshop, sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, gave local construction contractors, leaders and minority- and women-owned business owners an opportunity to meet each other as well as officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Arizona Department of Transportation and Maricopa County.
The event, which is part of a larger national effort by DOT to ensure participation by small and disadvantaged businesses in the nation’s economic recovery, focused on opportunities involving the $3 billion Loop 303 project. When completed, the project will traverse more than 40 miles of the West Valley and the Northern Parkway and create the region’s first east-west alternative to Interstate 10 by widening and elevating Northern Avenue.
“We have had success in other states when potential bidders are brought into the process early on,” Porcari says. “By helping small businesses succeed, we create jobs as well as strengthen our economy and our infrastructure.”
Federal transportation officials kicked off this series of workshops in May, which are focused on specific federally-funded transportation projects and designed to help minority- and women-owned businesses learn about contracting opportunities and how to better position themselves to take advantage of them. FHWA has met with DBEs, state and local transportation officials, and other stakeholders in Denver and Hartford, Conn., and events are planned for Kentucky and New York later this fall.