The Illinois Tollway Board of Directors recently approved a new Small Business Initiative to increase opportunities for small companies to participate in the agency’s 15-year, $12 billion capital program Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future.
“The Illinois Tollway is providing a great boost for small firms looking for a chance to grow and succeed in the construction industry,” said Gov. Pat Quinn. “The success of small businesses strengthens our state’s economy and creates good-paying jobs for Illinois residents.”
The new initiative defines small businesses as those with gross revenues of $10 million or less annually. To be eligible, businesses must be registered in the state’s Small Business Set Aside Program and may need to be prequalified by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The Tollway’s new Small Business Initiative establishes small business goals for select construction contracts on an ongoing basis just as it currently does for disadvantaged businesses, including certified minority- and women-owned business enterprises. Small business goals will be set on a project-by- project basis beginning in May 2013.
In addition, the new initiative provides for select construction contracts, generally with values of approximately $1 million, to be identified and awarded specifically to small businesses. Beginning in May 2013, small businesses should regularly monitor the Tollway’s bid letting schedule, which can be found on the “Doing Business” section of Tollway’s Web site — www.illinoistollway.com — for information about advertised small business contracts.
The Tollway’s new Small Business Initiative will be race- and gender-neutral, consistent with the agency’s goal to ensure that businesses of all types and sizes have the opportunity to participate in its construction projects.
“This new initiative creates a level playing field for small businesses of all backgrounds to work on Tollway projects,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “So, whether it’s a women- owned business, a disadvantaged business or a simply a small business, they will all have the opportunity to work on our capital program.”
The initiative will build on the Tollway’s current efforts to increase opportunities for small businesses to participate on Tollway projects as prime contractors. The Tollway already has been working to unbundle larger contracts into several smaller jobs, as well as actively defining small contract opportunities in amounts under $5 million. In 2012, a total of 14 unbundled contracts were awarded. With April Board action, 15 contracts under $5 million have been awarded so far in 2013.
The new initiative is among many ongoing outreach efforts the Illinois Tollway has initiated since launching the Move Illinois Program in 2012 in an effort to diversify and expand the pool of firms and individuals doing business with the Illinois Tollway.
In addition to organizing networking events for construction and professional services firms, the Tollway created its first-ever Construction Contracts 101 Training Webinar to help companies navigate the contract and bidding process.
And, earlier this month, the Tollway announced plans to develop technical assistance programs for small, minority- and women-owned construction firms in partnership with the Illinois Community College Board, Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.