The Minnesota Department of Transportation's Americans with Disability Act Small Business Opportunity pilot program received the Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award April 25 from the Women's Transportation Symposium.
The award is given to organizations that promote diversity, inclusion and multi-cultural awareness within the transportation industry and exhibit extraordinary efforts or initiatives in advancing professional opportunities for women and minorities.
MnDOT launched the program in 2018 to develop the capacity of small businesses, especially targeted group businesses, veterans and disadvantaged business enterprises. The program provides training on ADA construction and inspection work to MnDOT specifications while removing barriers for people with disabilities.
"The pilot program has identified a specific area of the transportation construction marketplace with current low rates of women- and minority-owned business participation and launched a process to build the capacity of these businesses," said Mary Schmidt, Metro District director for Advancing Equity.
The pilot enables small businesses to perform as prime contractors and build a track record of success by:
- Keeping contract values low (average $40,000 for construction and $25,000 for inspection)
- Using quick and simple contracting methods
- Providing support and feedback
To date the program has awarded 14 construction and four inspection contracts for a total of $750,000. All construction contracts have been awarded to TGBs or DBEs. All inspection contracts have been awarded to Tebu owned by women and persons of color.
By law, MnDOT is required to take the lowest bid.
"The capacity built through this program will enable these businesses to compete not only on MnDOT projects with ADA work, but on other public projects as well," said Todd Grugel, Minto ADA Office engineer.
The pilot team anticipates awards of at least a million dollars in contracts in 2020 and looks forward to expanding the program to Greater Minnesota.
For more information, visit mndot.gov/ada/training.html.