"In the past four years we have made great progress in creating more
work for minority- and women-owned businesses," Gov. Quinn said.
"But as I mentioned in my State of the State speech, we're going to
do more. We're working to ensure a level playing field for all
contractors in Illinois, which will increase our state's global
competitiveness and put even more people to work."
The kickoff for
the new initiative took place at the Winning with the State Business
Forum at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Representatives from
IDOT, the Illinois Tollway, other key state agencies and the U.S.
Department of Transportation conducted workshops to quickly provide
crucial information for small businesses and a step-by-step guide to
the state's contracting process, including ways of building capacity
"We are expanding our efforts to reach out and provide detailed
technical assistance to disadvantaged business enterprise firms, and
to other minority- and woman-owned firms that could qualify for the
DBE program, and help these small businesses more readily qualify
for and successfully bid on state contracts," Schneider said. "The
outreach and assistance is critical to firms that have the skills
and capabilities to do the work, but may be encountering barriers
within the contracting process itself.
"The kickoff event is the first of several diversity activities
throughout the year to engage the community, provide resources and
contract and procurement assistance. Having a solid disadvantaged
business enterprise program makes good business sense. IDOT's DBE
program is designed to bring greater opportunity to small
minority-owned and women-owned companies. We want to empower these
job-generating small businesses to maximize contract participation
In 2012, IDOT, one of the state's largest agencies, awarded
$344.2 million in contracts to DBE firms. That figure represents
15.7 percent of the total $2.2 billion in contract awards that year.
IDOT's DBE goal is 22.77 percent.
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Women-owned firms received the majority of the DBE contracts in
2012, totaling $139 million (40 percent), followed by Hispanic-owned
firms with $124 million in contracts (36 percent) and
African-American-owned firms, receiving nearly $50 million in
contracts (14 percent).
Minority participation goals include helping new, emerging or
underperforming DBE firms to acquire skills in marketing and
business management, Schneider said. IDOT also provides resources to
help DBE firms develop more effective bid proposals, take part in
training and build business relationships that can help them qualify
The DBE program is a federally mandated program that provides
opportunities for small minority-owned and women-owned businesses to
participate in contracts that are federally funded.
One recent DBE success story is Myka Trucking LLC, based in
Pembroke. Established in 2011 by Marla Lockett-Robinson, the
woman-owned firm earned more than $100,000 during its first year in
business. Lockett-Robinson started her career climbing telephone
poles and connecting cables for Comcast to help support her
"I took advantage of IDOT supportive services and workshops,"
Lockett-Robinson said. "Doors opened. Meeting other DBEs, along with
my certifications, helped me to land projects to grow my business."
Illinois Department of
Transportation file received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]