America’s economic recovery needs healthy, vibrant small businesses to create jobs and help stabilize our communities. But that does not come easily, and small and disadvantaged businesses need strong partners to help them get access to resources and opportunities.
So, today, our Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization is hosting a 2-day Small Business Summit to share information, success stories, and expert advice with these business owners.
Now, every federal agency is required by law to have an OSDBU to ensure that small and disadvantaged businesses (DBEs) are treated fairly and have an opportunity to compete and be selected for a fair amount of the agency's contracting and subcontracting dollars.
I am proud to say that--in the 14 months since I came to DOT--our OSDBU has been busy and effective, "delivering excellence every day." For example, state and local DOTs have awarded $1.3 billion in Recovery Act contracts to small and disadvantaged businesses, with many projects still to come.
Today's summit is just the latest example of OSDBU's impressive commitment.
I hope that all attendees will use these two days to learn new ways to market their products and services, finance their work, and grow their companies. The summit will also offer opportunities for these businesses to find mentors and hear more about conducting business with DOT and securing work on DOT-funded projects.
The reality is that DBEs could use a leg-up in securing contracts and subcontracts. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act--with over 13,000 transportation infrastructure projects funded--provides an unprecedented opportunity for small and disadvantaged businesses. But only if those businesses know how to compete on those projects.
Today's summit is a good place for DBEs to start, and DOT is glad to help.
But we've got more.
I’m pleased to announce today three efforts to strengthen our small-business programs and ensure that DBE voices are heard as we develop new policies and programs.
- Creating an Advisory Board with representatives from our General Counsel’s office, Office of Civil Rights, and highway, aviation, transit, and railroad administrations.
- Asking Congress to extend our Recovery Act DBE Bonding Reimbursement Program, an important tool that helps DBEs leverage their capital to compete with larger companies.
- Launching a demonstration program highlighting the Missouri and Wisconsin DBE programs as models for involving minorities and women in major transportation projects.
I'm really excited about this last one. If other states adopt the strategies used by Missouri and Wisconsin, there will be many more contracting opportunities for women, minorities, and disadvantaged individuals in the construction trades throughout America. So we're offering workforce development workshops in five cities to see if we can't expand on those models.
We are looking forward to co-hosting these workshops with state DOTs in Louisville (KY) & New Albany (IN), Denver (CO), Hartford (CT), Phoenix (AZ), and Brooklyn (NY).
The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in the small and disadvantaged businesses DOT's OSDBU serves. I hope today's summit and our newest efforts help sustain that spirit.