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Businesses Get Big Boost from ADOT ‘Expo’

ADOT Director John Halikowski addresses attendees at the 2016 DBE & Small Business Transportation Expo at the Glendale Civic Center Feb. 10. Photo credit: Matthew Roy/AZBEX

By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

If you have a small, minority-owned or other qualifying company, ADOT and the State of Arizona want to do business with you; and they will even tell you how.

At Wednesday’s 2016 DBE & Small Business Transportation Expo leaders from the Arizona Department of Transportation, City of Phoenix, Valley Metro and Phoenix/Sky Harbor International Airport educated over 500 attendees on how to get involved with their groups, identified available and upcoming projects, and generally offered support and encouragement.

The half-day event at the Glendale Civic Center featured three major presentations and a number of smaller breakout sessions to educate attendees on the process and opportunities available to them.

In addition, 48 prime consultants, contractors and agencies had exhibit tables in the main room to let attendees network, ask questions and build connections. Fourteen firms contributed to sponsor the event and its programs.

A DBE, or “Disadvantaged Business Enterprise,” is a company that is at least 51 percent owned and controlled by a member or members of a group identified as socially or economically disadvantaged. This includes women, minorities and people with certain disabilities or other qualifying factors.

Both the Arizona and federal departments of transportation have programs in place to award work to eligible firms who qualify under their guidelines.

City of Phoenix

In the first program segment, Maria Hyatt, Phoenix’s public transit director, and Kini Knudson, the city engineer and assistant director of the Street Transportation Department, gave attendees an overview of the city’s Transportation 2050 projects and vision. Transportation 2050 is largely enabled by voters’ approval of Proposition 104 in the August, 2015 local election.

Commitments made under Prop 104 include overlays for arterial and major streets, construction of new roads and bridges, installation of 2,000 new streetlights and creation of new sidewalks and bike lanes throughout the city. Both Hyatt and Knudson stressed the availability of work for DBEs in areas such as consulting, project planning, design services and program management.

Valley Metro and Sky Harbor

The second session featured Valley Metro Director of Planning and Accessible Transit Wulf Grote and Special Projects Administrator Candace Huff from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

Both Valley Metro and Sky Harbor have experienced significant growth and have extensive plans for new projects as well as significant ongoing maintenance and operational needs.

Valley Metro’s light rail program received a major boost with Transportation 2050/Prop 104, and many of its timelines for expansion, particularly in light rail, have been accelerated. The agency will be expanding bus service, developing the Tempe Street Car system, and both adding new and replacing existing vehicles on an ongoing basis.

Among the services Valley Metro will need that of particular interest to small firms, Grote listed service planning, community relations, program and project management, engineering services, and security and transit operations.

As one of the nation’s busiest airports, Sky Harbor International constantly has projects underway or in development, according to Huff. Smaller airports, such as Deer Valley and Goodyear, also have improvements and renovations planned in both the near and long term, and all of them will need the expertise of small firms as construction, redesign and operational updates occur for the facilities and their support systems.

ADOT: Projects and Promotion

The final of the day’s three segments featured Jessie Gutierrez, ADOT deputy state engineer, discussing his department’s upcoming projects and driving home the message that ample work opportunities exist for attendees who seek them out, manage their networks and demonstrate enthusiasm.

Gutierrez’ remarks touched on the admonitions of other speakers throughout the day for small and DBE companies to get involved and take advantage of the assistance ADOT and other departments and agencies make available.

In a special guest appearance earlier in the morning, ADOT Director John Halikowski stressed both the billions of dollars involved in transportation contracts and projects around the state, as well as the attendees’ vital role in ensuring the success of those projects and the futures of own companies.

Appearing with Halikowski, Barry Wong, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Equal Opportunity, affirmed the State’s dedication to providing opportunity to the attendees and the communities they represent.

“The message has gone out to state agencies that we encourage and embrace a similar philosophy to that which ADOT has demonstrated and taken the leadership on,” said Wong. “The Governor’s Office of Equal Opportunity has met with state directors and told them that this is the policy.”

Information on how to register with ADOT as a vendor and achieve certification as a DBE is available on the department website.

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