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Source : Contractor News
June 27, 2022
Author : Patty Allen
The City of Monroe is responding to previous criticisms of its program for granting minority-owned companies a seat at the negotiation table for city contract bids, by integrating its initiative with the nationwide Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program.
According to Monroe contract and DBE facilitator Lakeysha Bullock the initiative attempts to match disadvantaged business enterprises or DBEs with chances to work with the city.
For decades the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has required that state Department of Transportation agencies operate DBE programs, as part of the federally financed initiative to provide underprivileged companies an advantage when bidding on transportation-related projects. The DBE program thus requires that state-level transportation agencies assist this program to receive DOT funding seamlessly.
Two requirements are important here. First, according to the ,s law of 49 CFR Part 26, no individual will be denied the city benefits in contractor opportunities based on color, race, sex, or nationality. Secondly, the US DOT's DBE program aims to increase the participation of minority and women-owned firms in local and state-level contractor bids.
To be eligible for the DBE program, a business must be 51% or more owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The US DOT considers women, Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, and Subcontinent Asian-Pacific Americans as disadvantaged communities.
The city chose Bullock in March to serve as a contract and DBE facilitator. She has moved fast to improve the city’s outreach and inclusion. Bullock explained that after being hired, she sat down with the city's purchasing director, Curt Kelly, to review strategies for encouraging small businesses to work with the city.
"We recently held an event last week that was focused on the bidding process, understanding bidding and successful strategies," explained Bullock. "I invited two organizations [Louisiana Procurement Technical Assistance Center and the ULM Small Business Development Center] that I know are great for small, minority-owned businesses or just small businesses in general who are trying to grow to do business with cities on the state level or federal level."
On June 16, information on solicitation support, subcontracting opportunities, bid matching, bidding, and DBE registration and certification was made available to business owners.
According to Kenya Roberson, head of the Monroe Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, minority-owned companies now communicate more with the city.
Here at Contractor News, we have covered how this trend toward greater inclusion is occurring in other states as well, such as through Colorado’s DOT, which recently drafted plans to promote DBE participation over the next three years.
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