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DBELO Spotlight: Richmond International Airport

Hispanic Contractors Associations Promote Business Growth

DBE Power Player: Melvin E. Clark, CEO of G.W. Peoples Contracting

Mississippi River Bridge Everything You Need to Know Opens Gateway About Obamacare to Inclusion FALL 2013


Improving Mobility

Ferrovial is a global leader in the finance, design, build, operation and maintenance of large, complex infrastructure projects.

Providing opportunities for small, disadvantaged, minority, woman-owned and local firms is fundamental to our success and the success of our projects.

2013 TxDOT Office of Civil Rights “Small Business Advocacy Award� winner for outstanding service in DBE programs.


Contents 20 24 27 30

FEATURES Mississippi River Bridge to Inclusion

Hispanic Contractors Associations Promote Growth

OIG Completes DBE Program Audit

DBE Program Legal Landscape

DEPARTMENTS 4 Publisher’s Page 14 DBE Power Players: G.W. Peoples Contracting 7 DBE Power Players: SEPI Engineering 6 Business Development I: The Wealth Choice 18 Business Development II: Obamacare 19 Business Development III: Phishing 12 DBELO Spotlight: Russell Peaden, Richmond International Airport TRANSPORTATION TRENDS: AVIATION, CIVIL/HIGHWAY AND TRANSIT 36 Southern Transportation Civil Rights Executive Council 36 Conference of Minority Transportation Officials 36 Airport Minority Advisory Council 37 American Contract Compliance Association ALSO IN THIS ISSUE 10 11 Common DBE Program Misconceptions 38 Dallas Area Regional Hispanic Contractors Association American DBE

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Given the Opportunity to Grow, DBEs Create Jobs, Help Communities… and Everyone Wins American DBE Magazine was launched with the belief that America is a better country if everyone, including diverse firms, has the opportunity to experience the opportunities and benefits of living in a free society. In line with this belief, American DBE Magazine strives to empower, educate and encourage diverse firms to succeed in the transportation industry. This goal is achieved by publishing relevant industry information so that industry stakeholders stay up-to-date on best practices, success stories and industry trends. It is hoped that in pursuit of this goal, American DBE Magazine will be a resource to help “level the playing field” for diverse firms to thrive in the DBE program. In this issue of American DBE, you will read several stories about transportation funding recipients, prime contractors and DBE firms that have excelled at doing great work, which includes executing an effective DBE Program. As an example, this issue profiles G.W. Peoples Contracting Company, headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. DBE owner Melvin E. Clark, Esq. exemplifies what happens when diverse businesses have an opportunity to grow; jobs are created, communities benefit and everyone wins.

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This issue also profiles the excellent work of RichmondInternationalAirport in making diversity and inclusion a core business practice that not only provides opportunity to diverse firms, but also helps create better pricing through an expanded supplier base for goods and services. This issue of American DBE highlights the remarkable work the Illinois and Missouri Departments of Transportation have done on the Mississippi River Bridges project. Through collaboration and partnership between state transportation agencies, prime contractors and the community, the Mississippi RiverBridge is a hallmark project and benchmark for the successful implementation of the DBE program on a major transportation project. I hope you enjoy this issue of American DBE Magazine and will take time to offer comments, suggestions or feedback by email, letter or by connecting with us on our social media sites: Twitter, Facebook and the American DBE Magazine LinkedIn Group.

With Kind Regards,

Shelton A. Russell, Publisher


Fall 2013 Volume 1, Issue Number 2 Publisher: Shelton A. Russell Managing Editors: PR PROS, LLC Creative Director: William Cash

Because “That’s The Way We’ve Always Done It” Doesn’t Work Anymore.

Digital Media: Premier Web Design Solutions Editorial: Colette Holt, Esq. Dennis Kimbro, Ph.D. Sandra Moody Philip Russell Amikka Smith Jordan Taylor Karen White Headquarters: 514 Daniels Street, #186 Raleigh, NC 27605 Web site: www.AmericanDBE.com Social Media:

PublicRelationsCopywritingSocialMediaManagementCrisisCommunicati

About American DBE Magazine: American DBEHangout Magazine Share—REPEAT—Post is the premier nnect Blog Link Pin Tweet Publish Email Connect Blog Link Pin Hangout Share industry resource for individuals and stakeholders who work within the federal lMediaManagementCrisisCommunicationsMediaCoachingBrandEnhancementMediaMonitoringDigitalMedia Disadvantaged Business Enterprises program administration. American DBE Magazine is Post Tweet Publish Email Connect Blog Link Pin Hangout Share—REPEAT— published quarterly and distributed in all 50 states—plus Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin PublicRelationsCopywritingSocialMediaManagementCrisisCommunicationsMediaCoachingBrandEnhancementM Islands—to DBE program administrators, business owners, and professionals in the Blog Link Pin Hangout Share—REPEAT—Post Tweet Publish Email Connect Bl Post Tweet Publish Email Connect Aviation, Highway Construction, and Public Transit industries. Subscriptions: American DBE Magazine is published quarterly in Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer editions. The annual subscription rate is $19.99 including online editions, special industry reports, and four issues; single copy list price is $5.99 plus postage originating from Raleigh, North Carolina.

globalPRpros.com

Advertising Sales: editor@AmericanDBE.com (919) 234-6429 office

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Business Development

Gaining Wealth Is A Conscious Choice It has been nearly seven years since the death of Ebony magazine founder John H. Johnson, and nearly three decades since the day I sat in his thickly carpeted, exquisitely paneled office as he quizzed me on the rudiments of operating a successful business as well as the inner secrets of wealth creation. At his peak, Johnson’s financial portfolio included publishing, cosmetics, television and radio. In 1982, he was the first African American to be cited on Forbes magazine’s list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. Before Jackie Robinson integrated major league baseball, before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched on Washington, before Motown changed music, America had Ebony. During my interview, Johnson shared that he was in the business of inspiring people, heralding the achievements of other African Americans that mainstream magazines would never publish or would simply overlook. Although Johnson did not create the American media, he drew awareness to the black consumer market and eventually altered the media industry’s color and content. Born into poverty in Arkansas, he was the greatest salesman, entrepreneur and black chief executive of his time. As my interview drew to a close and I began to gather my notes, he asked his parting question: “Young man, why aren’t you rich?” After nearly one hour, it seemed as if Johnson had waited until the time was ripe, preparing to hear my vague, sheepish answer and subsequently dismiss any excuse that I might offer. To put it bluntly, he would have none of it. Yet he was also quick to point out my inherent advantages and gifts that I had overlooked or failed to consider. “Young man,” he began, “with your youth and education, the opportunities that stand before you are beyond computation.” “There are no secrets to amassing a fortune,” he continued. “As this process was taught to me, I enjoy sharing these keys with you. And it doesn’t take volumes to explain these

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principles. Never before was there such a demand for the energetic, resourceful man or woman; the individual who knows no limits; who will master his or her circumstances; who will never be satisfied with anything short of perfection; and who will manage his or her own business. Your hour of opportunity is at hand.” Mr. Johnson had made his point. Short of demanding an answer, he waited for my response, and it was only fair. After all, he had given me a portion of his day — nearly one hour of his most precious resource — time. Though we are blessed with the same 24 hours, it is not the hours of the day that concern the wealthy and successful, but how we account for our time that matters most. And within that time frame, Johnson’s thoughts never shifted. As he shook my hand and bid me farewell, this giant of a man found the time to teach me a valuable lesson: 1. He told me to imagine the life I wanted and decide to live it. 2. He urged me to discover my calling, to make it my vocation, and then devote my energy and lifeblood to its attainment. 3. He admonished me to set clear goals with a specific timetable for their completion. 4. He warned me never to quit in the pursuit of my goals. 5. “Be persistent,” he implored. 6. “See possibilities where others see problems; and remember, rules are made for those who will follow them.” 7. Finally, he told me to live by the infallible rule: to whom much is given, much is required. Give back and give thanks. Johnson believed that these seven keys would provide even the least of us with a road map to a life of more wealth, more freedom, and infinite joy and well-being. As he walked me to his door, he closed by saying, “Never forget, until you are free economically, true independence will always be an afterthought. Today, so many of us can live where we want, eat what we want, sleep where we want, and send our children to the finest schools we so desire. But, for far too many, this form of freedom is difficult to express. Why? Because, in most cases, it is a freedom we cannot afford. Unless you are free economically and financially, you will never be free personally.” continued on page 8


SUCCESS

POWERPLAYERS:

SEPI Engineering— Built To Last By Jordan Taylor

Prior to forming SEPI Engineering, Asefnia spent more than 16 years in the field of transportation engineering design and management. Today she is primarily responsible for providing quality control for all projects, financial and administrative management, and business development. SEPI Engineering was founded in 2001 as a full-service civil engi- Sepi Asefnia, president and CEO of SEPI Engineering & Construction Inc. neering and environmental planning and permitting firm. The company now offers clients a wider spectrum of services including roadway design, traffic engineering and operations, transportation planning, construc-

“Growing a business can take over your life; it can consume you.” Sepi Asefnia, president and CEO of SEPI Engineering & Construction Inc. said, “My goal has always been to grow the business, because eventually, you want to be the prime.” Asefnia credits her success as a DBE and WBE to being resilient, not taking ‘No’ for an answer and not taking business disappointments personally. “Being an entrepreneur is exciting, but it is hard.” SEPI Engineering has achieved 8(a) certification with the Small Business Administration and is a certified Woman-Owned Business Enterprise—in a heavily male-dominated industry. “Of course it’s challenging to be a woman in a male industry,” Asefnia said, noting that working in the construction industry for more than a decade has often required an ongoing effort of proving her firm’s qualifications and capabilities. continued She said that sometimes men simply haven’t known what to expect from a woman working in construction. She’s observed that if male clients have not had experiences or success working with women in construction, there is a steeper hill to climb to establish the mutual trust and reliance required. They often wonder: “Is she really qualified? Can she really do it? They’re not sure what to expect,” Asefnia said. “There’s an additional step and requirement for them to feel comfortable with you.” The good news is that those instances are rare for her after thriving in the construction industry for 12 years. Asefnia said that working with her is no longer an “unknown” for men in the field because she and her company have the reputation, the experience and SEPI Engineering and Construction offers clients a wide spectrum of services including roadway design, traffic engineering the staff to handle big projects – and operations, transportation planning, construction management, site/civil design, surveying, environmental planning and feasibility studies. with proven results. American DBE

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tion management, site/civil design, surveying, environmental planning and feasibility studies. Asefnia said that one of the challenges as a DBE was difficulty in establishing the same level of contact and building relationships with the actual client developing the project. She said a large aspect of being able to grow a successful business is building relationships with clients. “That process Sepi Asefnia, SEPI Engineering is less effective when you’re not able to be the prime,” Asefnia said. Over the years, she was able to develop stronger business relationships to strengthen the company and then financed the growth and expansion of the company by securing a series of bank loans: first a small home equity loan, next an operating loan and eventually a Business Line of Credit. “Just be very confident and very persistent. Keep pushing hard enough to open a few doors, get the experience and then it gets easier,” she said. Whether large or small, Asefnia said most companies face similar issues, just on different levels. “Cash flow is one of the biggest challenges that any business deals with.” She said putting effective controls in place is crucial to managing cash flow problems. “Small costs add up,” she said, “so it is important to run a really lean operation. That means reducing overhead expenses and non-project-related costs, using group discounts, and monitoring budgets for administrative support, office supplies, marketing and advertising.” Asefnia suggests the following internal practices to support positive cash flow:

“My goal has always

been to grow the business, because eventually, you want to be the prime.

• • • • • •

Invest in a good accountant and accounting system Stay on top of collections Develop a consistent process for invoices and payments Invoice early Monitor collections Implement customer follow-up as part of the invoicing and collections process

A series of strategic growth decisions and initiatives have fueled SEPI Engineering’s growth. When it was founded 12 years ago, the company focused primarily on civil and roadway design, traffic engineering and surveying services.

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Diversification into environmental planning and permitting, water resources, and construction engineering inspection helped Asefnia grow the firm and buffer it from economic downturns in other markets. Additionally, contract work for the Army Corps of Engineers bolstered the firm’s growth. Asefnia said the excitement of doing business will come from growing the firm, graduating from the DBE program and securing contracts and opportunities as the prime contractor. Since its establishment, SEPI Engineering has grown to more than 140 employees, handling work for the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force through offices located in Wilmington, Charlotte and Raleigh, NC. Asefnia said, “We’re looking to grow our revenue and our expertise. We are interested in expanding geographically.” Asefnia said that DBEs and entrepreneurs committed to success must learn, grow, network, evolve and open their eyes to new opportunities. She also emphasized that business owners must learn to delegate and allow other skilled and talented people to support them, and be comfortable with using the resources available to support business development and growth. “Identify and crystallize your vision,” she said. “Generally, being a small, woman-owned DBE is challenging. But when you have a vision, it’s exciting and rewarding.”

continued from page 6

Due in part to my newly released book, “The Wealth Choice,” I can unequivocally state that wealth is not a function of circumstance, environment, present conditions, luck or the cards you are dealt. Wealth is the result of a conscious choice as well as action, faith, innovation, effort, preparation and discipline. In short, you need not concern yourself with your current state of affairs. Don’t settle for less than you can be. As I discovered during my seven-year study, the wealthy make money while others make excuses. Kimbro is a professor at Clark Atlanta University and a best-selling writer. His fifth book is “The Wealth Choice: Success Secrets of Black Millionaires” (Macmillan).


PROUD TO GIVE BUSINESSES A LIFT CATS is proud to provide opportunities for businesses to create local jobs through the advancement of transit projects. CATS also seeks to create an environment that gives small and socially or economically challenged local businesses the opportunity to compete for publicly funded contracts by participating in the Small Business Opportunity (SBO) and the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Programs. On the LYNX Blue Line project, for example, CATS spent $42.9 million with 38 DBE firms to build the new light rail system. As the major provider of public transportation to Charlotte and the surrounding region, CATS relies on the communities we serve to build and operate the service every day. By working together on these new opportunities, we can all keep our communities moving in the right direction. For more information, visit ridetransit.org.


Business Development

ince its drafting more

than 30 years ago, the DBE program has consistently experienced

misunderstandings that filter through-

out the DBE community through program administrators. Usually these misunderstandings are shared or passed along by well-meaning and capable professionals; however, they still miss the mark on being accurate. During the recent Southern Transportation Civil Rights Executive Council’s Civil Rights Training Symposium in Charleston, SC, Bob Ashby gave an informative presentation on the DBE Program. Bob Ashby, the retired USDOT attorney who is fondly called the “Godfather of the DBE Program” garnered this title based on his leadership role in drafting the initial DBE program in the 1980s. Ashby shared with conference participants 11 common misconceptions in the form of a true-false test. To help us pass the test, he made all of the answers to the statements “false.” However, it is true that avoiding these common misconceptions can help DBE practitioners administer the program well and avoid pitfalls in program administration.

#2

MISCONCEPTION

The DBE overall goal numerator should only include certified DBEs

DBE administrators should look to relevant data sources to supplement their DBE directory and consider supplementing the number of firms in the directory (for the purposes of goal-setting only). Administrators should carefully examine lists of MBE/WBEs from other sources to include potential DBEs. Program administrators should also examine their own databases such as vendors, bidders’ lists, pre-bid or preproposal conference attendance lists and outreach session attendance lists to obtain a truer available number of ready, willing and able firms.

11 Misconception

About the DBE Program By Shelton A. Russell #1

MISCONCEPTION

The USDOT recipient’s overall goal number is applied to each project

There is no requirement to set each contract goal at the same percentage level as the overall goal—in fact, its’ a no-no. The goal for a specific contract may be higher or lower than the overall goal, or no goal at all depending on such factors as: a) the type of work involved, b) the location of the work and c) the availability of DBEs for the work of the particular contract. There is only one way to determine the DBE goal figure

MISCONCEPTION

#3

Administrators may choose an average, median or weighted figure; for instance, if an agency has three years of goal information that provides the following information: DBE Goal Achievement

9.0 percent Year 2 = 8.0 percent Year 3 = 6.0 percent

Year 1 =

This information can be considered in three different ways:

• Average of the three years: (9+8+6=23) and 23/3 years = 7.7 percent

• Median of the three years of participation = 8.0 percent • Weighted* (based on the actual awards during the 3 10

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years) = $965,832/$12,234,598 = 7.8 percent *Generally, the weighted approach is likely to be the best method. MISCONCEPTION

#4

Overall goal attainment is averaged over 3 years

While goals are set on a 3-year basis, goal attainment is looked at on an annual basis. For example, a 3-year goal for a State DOT is 12 percent. Attainment is 10 percent in Year 1; 16 percent in Year 2; and 10 percent in Year 3. Therefore the 3-year average is 12 percent. However, the goal was below 12 percent in Years 1 and 3. During those years, the State DOT must follow accountability procedures with FHWA. “Home state” MISCONCEPTION #5 refers to the state where an applicant “Home State” firm maintains its is where the firm resides principal place of business. A state UCP (Unified Certification Program) is not required to process an application for certification from a firm having its principal place of business outside the state if the firm is not certified by the UCP in which the firm maintains its principal place of business. However, nothing prohibits a UCP from doing so. USDOT encourages reciprocity among states, especially those in the same region.

#6

MISCONCEPTION

DBE certifications “Expire”

A certification is not like a driver’s license; there is no term limit on certification. Once certified, a firm stays in the program until it is decertified or withdraws. “Recertification” is never needed to stay in the program, but UCPs can review the status of firms periodically and start the decertification process if there’s a problem. Local small business MISCONCEPTION program participation counts toward raceneutral DBE participation

#7

Only DBE-certified firms can be counted toward DBE participation; race-neutral or race-conscious. If the small business is a certified DBE, it can count toward DBE participation. Administrators should avoid “layering” DBE goals and local MBE/WBE goals.

#8

Firms “graduate” from the DBE Program

MISCONCEPTION

There is no such thing as “graduation” from the DBE program. That is a term taken from the 8(a) Small Business Administration certification program, where there is a structured business development process and a term limit. In DBE programs, a firm that exceeds applicable size standards is simply no longer eligible. Everyone who touches a project #9 – procurement managers, engineers, Project oversight is only the job inspectors, etc. – is of DBE/Civil Rights Office staff responsible for making sure DBE requirements are carried out properly. The DBE Program is just as much a part of the project as meeting technical specifications; and the same people should check for these standards in the field. MISCONCEPTION

The recent DOT Office of Inspector General #10 (OIG) report says that centralization of the DBE DOT reorganization will fix program is needed. This what ails the DBE program may not necessarily help the program. What is needed is greater authority and more resources at modal, state and local levels. Creating new centralized offices goes in the wrong direction, pulling authority and resources from where they are actually needed. MISCONCEPTION

USDOT issued a Notice MISCONCEPTION #11 of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in 2012 and The new DOT rule received 240 comments. Issues addressed included will happen soon updating forms, addressing certification issues, counting and others. The most controversial proposal would require bidders to submit DBE and good faith effort (GFE) information at the time of bid. However, the DBE Final Rule is now listed as “significant” (meaning likely delay). The issue date of the new final rule is “undetermined.”

DBE administrators who DBE administrators whoavoid avoidthese thesecommon commonmisconceptions misconceptions will go a stellar DBE program andand go aalong longway waytoward towardoperating operating a stellar DBE program helping DBE DBE firms succeedin inthe thetransportation transportationindustry. industry. helping firms succeed

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DBE Liaison Officer SPOTLIGHT

decisions to reach out to small and diverse businesses to make the process as open and fair as possible.” Serving as RIC’s DBELO is not Peaden’s only job. His other Richmond International Airport Team Approach Brings DBE Success main responsibility is serving as Director of Real Estate At Richmond International Airport (RIC) Russell Peaden & Facilities. In this role, Peaden manages all RIC properties administers an award-winning DBE program by building on including the airport terminal, concessions, airfield and cargo the airport’s top-down commitment to making diversity a facilities. To be successful handling multiple roles, Peaden core business practice. “We take said, “You have to manage time it seriously,” Peaden said. “Our and you must have a team apsuccess comes from the support proach. When the CEO says and involvement of our CEO it’s important, then it is easy for Jon Mathiasen. He is engaged me to work with our team to and wants the program to work. get it done. I can work with the We hold ourselves accountable, accounting department to get and therefore we hold our conthe reports we need, and I can tractors accountable for making work with the engineer to make the program work. This is not sure construction projects are lip-service for us.” administered correctly. You have DBE Liaison Officers (DBEto utilize the resources that you LO) across transportation have and have a good team.” agencies range from department RIC’s Airport Concessions directors with upward of 15-20 DBE program has three firms priemployees down to one-person From left, Russell Peaden with Hudson News joint venture partner Hugo marily involved in its concessions Owens and RIC President and CEO Jon Mathiasen. staffs who divide DBE Program program. Marshall Food Services responsibilities with other job duties. However, each of (MFS) from Memphis, Tennessee is a joint venture partner of these extremes requires a DBELO committed to running an Delaware North Companies. MFS is responsible for the dayexemplary program for the involvement of DBE firms in their to-day management of a Cheeseburger Cheeseburger restauagency’s business opportunities. rant in the terminal. Peaden said, “That store has done great; Although RIC is a small hub airport, that does not prevent we are about to expand the location to double its size.” NIA the organization from being forward-thinking when it comes Corporation, a Richmond-based ACDBE is a joint venture to creating opporpartner of Hudson News and is responsible for managing a tunities for small Hudson News store in the airport’s atrium area, as well as pro“Supplier diversity is a priority and rouand disadvantaged viding back-office support to Hudson. Finally, RIC has a direct tine part of doing business. We work hard businesses. “We contract with ACDBE firm Departure Media Incorporated. to implement fair and open processes, to look to involve Departure Media manages the airport’s advertising program. small and disadvan“Departure Media handles everything from advertising space ensure that our DBE and ACDBE protaged firms in all of design, sales and construction. They have done a great job for grams are fully compliant with USDOT/ our opportunities, us,” Peaden said. FAA regulations and, most importantly, not just opportuniOverall, Peaden credits RIC’s DBE Program success to the to ensure that all small businesses have ties under the DBE effectiveness of sincere outreach efforts to expand opportuniequal opportunities to compete for and Program,” Peaden ties throughout the Richmond community and beyond. He said. “We encoursaid, “Supplier diversity is a priority and routine part of doing perform airport contracts.” age all of our business. We work hard to implement fair and open processes, Russell Peaden, department heads to ensure that our DBE and ACDBE programs are fully comRichmond International Airport making purchasing pliant with USDOT/FAA regulations and, most importantly,

RUSSELL PEADEN, C.M.

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     

             

to ensure that all small businesses have equal opportunities to compete for and perform airport contracts.” Peaden and RIC’s efforts earned them the Airport Minority Advisory Council’s (AMAC) Award of the Organization recognition at the 2013 Airport Business Diversity Conference held in June 2013. AMAC CEO Shelby M. Scales said, “We recognized RIC for their efforts in developing a great ACDBE program and expanding opportunities for regional DBEs in the greater Richmond community.” RIC has several upcoming projects that present opportunities for DBEs to work at the airport. Peaden said, “We make sure to advertise all of our opportunities on our website at www.flyrichmond.com and on the State of Virginia’s online e-procurement system at www.eva.virginia.gov. Coming up soon, we have projects that include a taxiway rebuild project, a roadway improvement project and the refurbishment of a cargo building and hangar later in 2013.”

Benny Marshall of Marshall Food Services (far right), a joint-venture partner with Delaware North Companies, celebrates a grand opening event with airport commissioners and Delaware North representatives.

On the Web at www.AmericanDBE.com


Business Development

Melvin E. Clark Exhibits

THE WILL TO WIN By Jordan Taylor

A

British novelist said,

“If you have the will to win,

you have achieved half your success; if you don’t,

you have achieved half your failure.” Throughout his academic, professional and entrepreneurial journey, Melvin E. Clark, Chief Executive Officer of G.W. Peoples Contracting Co. has exhibited the will to win. “I am chairman, CEO and owner of G.W. Peoples Contracting. We are the only African American-owned firm in the country that builds railroads,” Clark said. “This fact simply underscores the problems encountered and the progress that has yet to be made if we—minority and women-owned businesses—are to play a meaningful role in building and rehabilitating the transportation infrastructure in America. We have a corporate —and I have a personal—commitment to ensure that our workforce reflects the communities and the ridership that the transit system serves.” Three decades ago, Clark entered the railroad industry because he saw an opportunity – and had the undeterred will to win. Clark said he realized that millions of dollars were being spent in the rail industry and nobody was there to service the needs of the industry. “The only thing I did not have was the technical expertise,” Clark said. Equipped with the necessary business acumen, he collaborated with a business partner and launched the venture Metroplex to begin pursuing contracts. The company’s first major project was a $5 million job at Camp LeJeune in North Carolina. Clark said from start to finish, the priority was on quality work, as opposed to immediate profits. After successfully completing the project and receiving 8(a) certification through the Small Business Administration, the team negotiated a new $7 million contract with Camp LeJeune and grew from that point. Clark credits his father with helping launch the company and providing much-needed financial support and encouragement. “He didn’t understand what I was doing, but he had confidence in me,” Clark said.

Melvin E. Clark, CEO of G.W. Peoples Contracting

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Metroplex was founded in 1983 and over the years, develClark said he is very proud of the company, the team and oped into the premier minority rail construction contractor the work that has been done throughout his career. Some of in the United States. Under Clark’s leadership, Metroplex the current featured projects for G.W. Peoples include: established a national reputation of excellence. It was sold to the British construction and engineering firm, Balfour Beatty Atlanta Streetcar Project in 2000. At the time of sale, Metroplex was actively performG.W. Peoples Contracting (GWP) is a subcontractor to ing on projects such as the Alameda Corridor Project in Los URS Corporation on the project, constructing the center city Angeles ($65 Million); the Bay Downtown Loop of the Atlanta Area Rapid Transit Project in San Streetcar System, a $69.2 million “Ensuring fairness and diversity among those Francisco ($40 Million); and the design/build interoperable/conprojects that receive taxpayer dollars and demanding Southern New Jersey Light Rail nectable project that includes 12 accountability from the recipients of those funds is a System in Camden, New Jersey stations and running track that fundamental role of the government, and we believe ($55 Million), which were, at that can eventually support and conthat what is good for every other agency under the time, the largest transit construcnect to light rail transit. On a $4.3 purview of the U.S. Department of Transportation tion projects in the country. million subcontract to URS, GWP Clark has been at the helm of is furnishing materials, equipment should be good for the Federal Railroad AdminisG.W. Peoples Contracting Co. for and labor to install almost three tration (FRA). In addition to being a pragmatic the past three years. The company miles of embedded and specialty political stand, it just makes for good public policy is a DBE/MBE/SBE certified track. This includes ballasting, and practical business sense. We recommend an railroad contractor that provides clips, fasteners, steel ties, turnouts, Executive Order to mandate inclusion of minority new track construction, rehabilistorage tracks, switches and speand disadvantaged groups across all U.S. DOT tation, maintenance, repair and cialty hardware in accordance to contracts, including those funded under the FRA.” removal. Capabilities also include standards specified in the design. —G.W. Peoples Contracting Co. heavy and light rail, at-grade road [Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid crossings, rail and transit right-ofTransit Authority (MARTA)] way, railroad bridges and all related site activities. Like many DBEs—within any industry and of all sizes— Metro Silver Line WMATA Rail Extension (Phase 1) Clark said that the greatest challenges have been financing, GWP is a subcontractor to Bechtel Corporation on a $3.4 bonding and acceptance in the industry. However, he has em- million project for new rail construction on the 11-mile Metployed several success strategies to overcome those obstacles. ropolitan Washington Airport Authority/WMATA Dulles Clark said it’s important to be surrounded by people who International Airport Corridor Metrorail Project. Dubbed are smarter than you and who are committed to the business the Silver Line, the contract includes acquisition and instalowner and the business vision because, “you can’t do everylation of 31,000 fasteners, 62,000 epoxy-coated inserts and thing yourself.” installation of track. [Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Clark holds a degree in accounting from Pennsylvania State Authority (WMATA)] University, a law degree from the Northwestern University School of Law and a Master’s Degree from the Northwestern University Graduate School of Management. While attending Northwestern University, Clark also was employed as a labor consultant to Chicago United, where he developed a plan for increasing minority participation in the construction trades industry.  During the Clinton Administration, Clark recommended and formulated the creation of the SBA’s Mentor-Protégé Program, whereby minority 8(a) companies could be mentored by larger companies to compete in today’s marketplace. Today, the SBA’s Mentor-Protégé program has been replicated throughout the federal agency system. Metroplex and G.W. Peoples Work on the WMATA Silver Line represents G.W. Peoples’ largest contract to date. signed the first Mentor-Protégé Agreement with the SBA.

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Metro Silver Line WMATA Rail Extension (Phase 2) GWP was recently selected to perform rail work on Phase 2 of the Silver Line Extension under Capital Rail Constructors, a joint venture of Clark Construction and Kiewit Infrastructure. This job represents the company’s largest contract to date and will consist of installing more than 16 miles of double-track rail line from Washington, DC to the Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia. CTA Dan Ryan Red Line Track Renewal The Chicago Transit Authority hired Kiewit Infrastructure to completely rebuild the tracks along the south Red Line from Cermak/Chinatown to 95th/Dan Ryan in one of the largest reconstruction G.W. Peoples was subcontracted to provide all labor, equipment, material and supervision projects in the CTA’s history, for the Chicago Transit Authority Red Line. generating a multimilliondollar investment in both Chicago’s South Side and the backbone of the CTA rail system. The project is part of more than $1 billion in federal, state and local funds being invested in the Red Line—the system’s busiest route—to upgrade track and drainage systems, renovate stations and rebuild yards. G.W. Peoples is subcontracted with Kiewit to provide all labor, equipment, material and supervision, performing work valued at more than $9 million. The overall estimated budget for the track project—including design, construction and additional CTA service—is $425 million. Working with the Chicago Urban League, community organizations and area churches, G.W. Peoples also developed a workforce approximating 70 percent for minority participation. [Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)] Despite the company’s success, Clark still believes that the industry as a whole has a long way to go. For years, he has been a proponent and advocate for greater inclusion efforts and DBE participation goals for the Federal Railroad Administration. He recently presented a document to the Congressional Black Caucus Council for Transportation & Infrastructure Diversity, recommending a mandate of inclusion for DBEs related to all U.S. Department of Transportation contracts and provisions that establish DBE participation goals for each phase of a project to include engineering, design and construction within each discipline. A longtime member of the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO), Clark said, “Goals should be set for every phase and every competency. This is something that’s simply fair and it makes sense.” He said 16

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implementation of those recommendations would immediately result in billions of dollars of work and thousands of jobs at prevailing wage rates ($20 per hour and up). It is often quoted that success is a journey, not a destination. Moving forward, G.W. Peoples Contracting has a 5-year, $50 million growth, development and minority business joint venture plan. Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and CEO Melvin Clark has certainly demonstrated the way and the will to win. “Our story is a good one. We’re trying to make a positive difference in this industry and a positive difference in this world,” Clark said.

Melvin Clark (3rd from left) joins the construction crew onsite at the Atlanta Streetcar Project.

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Business Development

ObamaCare and Your Bottom Line By Sandra W. Moody, MBA, LUTCF, CLTC If you are a sole proprietor, a small company with fewer than 50 employees or a large, national firm with thousands of employees, you will have opportunities, responsibilities and challenges complying with the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act (PPACA), also known as ObamaCare. This far-reaching legislation is the most significant and impactful law since the establishment of Social Security and it will affect every American. Enacted into law in 2010, PPACA requires all citizens to have health insurance, guarantees coverage by eliminating pre-existing medical condition requirements, removing insurance plan limitations and adding free wellness checks for all. With these benefits come obligations and tax penalties for non-compliance; not only for employers, but individuals as well. The Congressional Budget Office projects that 92 percent of Americans will be insured by 2019. Nearly 84 percent of Americans are currently insured through employer plans, individual health insurance plans, Medicare, Medicaid and other government programs. It is anticipated that more will gain access to healthcare, however the affordability aspect of the law remains debatable.

what you’re doing. By maintaining your existing coverage, you satisfy the individual mandate requirement. Those who are not insured in 2014 will be subject to an annual health tax penalty starting at $95 or 1 percent of taxable income— whichever is greater—and rising to $695 or 2.5 percent in 2016. Some categories of individuals will be exempt from this penalty, including those whose premium exceeds 8 percent of their income, those in certain religious sects and incarcerated individuals. The Medicaid Expansion

The federal government is assisting those uninsured to get coverage specifically by urging states to expand the income eligibility to obtain Medicaid. By raising the income requirements to qualify for this government health insurance program for the poor, the net widens to include those earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). This means a single person could now earn up to $15,000 and a family of four, up to $32,000, and meet Medicaid eligibility. And for the first time, single adults without children will be guaranteed coverage through the program. The federal government is paying the total costs to the states for the new enrollees beginning 2014 through 2016, after which their share will gradually decline over future years. The Healthcare Exchange Marketplaces

One of the cornerstone provisions of ObamaCare requires states to establish healthcare exchange marketplaces or default to the federal government. With an Open Enrollment slated for October 1st of this year and an effective date of January 1, 2014, these virtual marketplaces will offer consumers the opportunity to shop and compare qualified health 2014 Rollout plans from private insurance companies just like we shop for The Individual Mandate car insurance or travel online today. It will provide another Various provisions of the law have been implemented since option to the individual and employer enactment, however, January 2014 is medical plans currently available. Four the magic date when critical compodifferent plans and levels of coverage “These virtual marketplaces will nents take effect. Primarily there are will be marketed. Called metal tiers four key areas that will rollout: the inoffer consumers the opportunity - Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum dividual mandate, employer mandate, - these plans provide minimum essenMedicaid eligibility expansion and the to shop and compare qualified tial benefits coverage with premiums creation of healthcare exchange marhealth plans from private insurance only determined by geographical reketplaces. In 2014, if you are insured gion, age, single or family and smoker through an individual medical policy, companies just like we shop for car status. Individuals and families your employer or a government insurance or travel online today.” purchasing health insurance through program, i.e., Medicaid or Medicare, the exchanges (and in the private military health care, etc., keep doing continued on page 31 18

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Business Development ustomer data is one of the most prized pos- Anti-Phishing Work Group. Links redirect to mirror sites with sessions of any business. That your custom- altered addresses instead of the real site. Security certificate ers have voluntarily shared their personal names and the site names typically don’t match. details and information is a sign of trust As a business owner, you won’t have such clear signs in evand acceptance of your firm as a legitimate business partner. ery case. Instead, a customer might call reporting a strange Betray that trust and you lose their email no one at your business sent. acceptance, as well as their desire to Customer account activity may Understanding ever do business with you again. abruptly depart from its norms. One way to lose consumer trust Angry callers may report unauthoris to be a victim of a phishing scam. ized charges or orders. Rather than A phishing scam is when someone merely assuming one-off, isolated and the Threat else poses as you or your business errors, M/WBEs need to consider It Poses T o and accesses critical pieces of cusphishing as another possibility. tomer data such as passwords, bank Your Business account data and even Social SecuResponding To Phishing rity numbers. Since customers think Responding to phishing is necesyou were the one who asked for the sary to clear up unauthorized interdata, they may blame you for the actions with customers and curtail subsequent problems. Fair? Not rethe activities of the scam. One of ally. Yet businesses of all sizes need the best ways to do this is to get a to be prepared to identify, respond copy of the phishing message and and guard against phishing attacks. send a message to your customers showing them what’s going on and reminding them of your business Spotting Phishing Phishing often comes as a surprise standards regarding customer data, such as: “Remember, no real reto many business owners. Phishing, after all, is a customer-centric quest from us would ever ask you to provide your PIN or password over game. The phishing perpetrator the Internet.” needs to pose as a business to pull Another way your business can off the scam, but otherwise the business generally isn’t involved until customers report problems. respond to phishing is with an overall customer education These problems can come in the form of strange or corrupt program. Tell customers how you keep their data secure, share emails, surprise charges on their accounts or withdrawals and demonstrate some of the ways to check for your company’s authentic security systems. against balances that they didn’t authorize. Most phishing attempts use email to get customers to visit It can be tempting to respond to phishing by retaliating a dummy site or reply to a message to “verify” their account against the phishing group, but this is often a waste of time information. A typical message might read: “We are upgrad- and resources. Most phishing sites are only active for up to ing our customer account system and need you to log in to get 72 hours, notes the Anti-Phishing Work Group. Phishers also your new customer ID number” or “Due to the provisions of tend to use free domain and sub-domain registration profiles, the Patriot Act, we need to verify your identity to keep your which costs you resources to chase, but costs them nothing to account open. Please visit www.fakewebsite.com to help us start up and later abandon. out.” Once at the site, users think they are on a trusted business site – yours – and respond to the questions with their personal Protecting Against Phishing While it may seem frustrating and unstoppable, there are information and any corroborating information (mother’s maiden name, Social Security number, etc) they are asked for steps you can take to protect your business from phishing. by the site. From there, the phisher can use the information for These go well beyond simply installing anti-virus software, which is fairly useless because phishing relies on customer acidentity theft or fraud purposes. Phishing often can be spotted in the small details. Emails tions—not viruses—to work. You can protect your customer may have spelling errors or be worded incorrectly, and they won’t have appropriate digital signatures, according to the continued on page 34

PHISHING

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Mississippi River’ s N G T I EW ATEWAY O NCLUSION

t. Louis, Missouri is known as the “Gateway to the West” based on its historical significance as the launching point for many mountain men, adventurers and settlers seeking opportunities in the new frontier west of the Mississippi River in the 1800s. This historical significance is commemorated by the “Gateway Arch” monument that stands on the banks of the Mississippi River in downtown St. Louis. However, the Gateway Arch is no longer the sole gateway monument in St. Louis. The new Mississippi River Bridge represents another gateway – A Gateway to Inclusion. As transportation projects grow larger, it can often be difficult for DBE firms to find opportunities that are the right size and scale for their business capacity. Large transportation projects often impose significant barriers to inclusion for DBE firms, such as bonding, workforce size and experience, cash flow and financing, and the requisite purchasing power to buy materials and supplies. As a result of innovative thinking and processes, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), the Illinois Department of Transportation and community stakeholders have bridged the gap to create a gateway to inclusion for DBEs and minority workers on the new Mississippi River Bridge (MRB) project. Mississippi River Bridge Highlights

The MRB project’s website located at www.newriverbridge. org states, “The Mississippi River Project will create a new gateway between Illinois and Missouri that provides better connections to and through St. Louis. The project includes a landmark bridge structure, and the realignment and reconstruction of Interstate 70 and numerous local roads on both sides of the state line. The project will provide needed traffic capacity, improve system linkages and community access, re20

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duce traffic crashes, improve travel times, and enhance economic growth.” The new bridge is a 1,500foot cable-stayed bridge across the Mississippi River Photo Credit: Illinois Department of Transportation between Metro East (Illinois) and St. Louis, Missouri. The bridge is two lanes in each direction, but is wide enough to be re-striped for three lanes in each direction if traffic volumes warrant and additional funding is secured. In addition, the bridge project includes approaches on the Illinois and Missouri sides to direct traffic to the bridge. With a main span of 1,500 feet, the MRB will be the third longest cable-stayed bridge in the United States. The MRB project was procured using a Design/Bid/Build process that resulted in 36 construction projects totaling more than $711 million for engineering, land acquisition, utility adjustments, environmental mitigation and construction costs. The MRB project was funded through a mixture of funds from the Federal Highway Administration, the State of Illinois and the State of Missouri. The MRB project is scheduled for completion in early 2014. DBE goals on the 36 MRB projects averaged approximately 18 percent, and all goals have been achieved by prime contractors. The largest of the 36 projects comprise construction of the bridge crossing the Mississippi River, which was awarded to a three-company joint venture team consisting of Massman Construction from Kansas City; Traylor Brothers from Evansville, Indiana; and Alberici Constructors from St. Louis. The total amount of the bridge contract is $229 million. Achieving the goal of inclusion for DBEs on the MRB proj-


The new Mississippi River Bridge connects Illinois to Missouri in St. Louis

ect required innovative thinking and the application of several DBE program best practices. These initiatives have resulted in a major success for small and large DBE firms finding opportunities on the project. To date, 117 DBE firms have worked on the project, earning revenues in excess of $114 million. The 117 DBE firms have been awarded 246 total contracts in areas that include engineering, construction, consulting, materials and supplies, and ancillary services. In addition, the MRB project has achieved minority workforce utilization of 23 percent on the project. DBE best practices on the project included initiatives such as extensive community and industry participation through roundtable meetings, breaking down bid packages to promote small business participation, implementing accelerated prompt payment provisions, and encouraging mentor/protégé partnerships between non-DBE and DBE firms. Community & Industry Participation

After design on the bridge began, MoDOT established a series of community roundtable meetings to discuss workforce use and DBE involvement on the MRB project. Initially, the project held five public roundtable meetings, where various issues were discussed. After those initial meetings, the

community, as well as the Illinois and Missouri Departments of Transportation, selected a 15-person Workforce/DBE Advisory Committee. This committee—and its subcommittees—continued to research and discuss these topics through the remaining design and construction of the bridge. In addition, the bridge contracting team held additional roundtables to discuss progress and possible concerns about workforce and DBE involvement issues. MoDOT External Civil Rights Director Lester Woods said, “A lot of the recommendations we used on the project in areas such as workforce participation, prompt payments and other initiatives came from having transportation stakeholders and the community-at-large involved in the project from the beginning. We strived to have all segments of the community at the table from the beginning of the project until the end to ensure total understanding, and to have them as a collaborative partner throughout the process.” In addition to buy-in from the community and minority business organizations, the MRB project established a strong working relationship with the contracting community through the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of St. Louis. AGC St. Louis President Len Toenjes served on the MRB Workforce/DBE Advisory Committee and affirms that American DBE

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Ongoing Compliance Monitoring

Above and below: Minority and women workers comprised more than 23 percent of the total MRB project workforce.

the collaborative effort of all the stakeholders was the key to success. Toenjes said: “Our board had the foresight a few years ago to hire Steve Lewis as vice president to help our organization work with government agencies, contractors and the community to build relationships throughout the industry. This allows the AGC to be proactive in helping prevent problems before they occur and in working through issues together when they arise. On projects like the MRB, we were able to work upfront and behind the scenes to help the project succeed.” Bid Packages to promote Small Business Participation

To ensure that local, small and disadvantaged business had opportunities on the MRB project, both the Illinois Department of Transportation and MoDOT looked for project needs that could be met using small companies. MoDOT MRB Project Manager Randy Hitt, P.E. said, “Small business contracts were let for items such as landscaping, setting up construction trailers, ground clearing for the construction trailers and catering for project events. These aren’t the areas you typically think about, but they were opportunities for small firms that may not have been able to work on the larger projects.”

To ensure that DBE participation stayed on track throughout the project, MRB staff reviewed DBE participation at monthly progress meetings with contractors and encouraged primes to invite their DBE subs to the monthly meetings. Full-time compliance specialists were assigned to the project to monitor areas such as DBE compliance with commercially useful function regulations and checking certified payrolls for labor compliance. In addition, all resident engineers on the project participated in DBE compliance training so that they would be prepared to recognize “red flags” in the field related to the DBE program. “You have to review DBE participation on an ongoing basis,” Hitt said. “If you don’t, it will be hard to fix things when the project is 50 or 75 percent completed.” Mentor-Protégé Efforts

Given the size of the project, MoDOT knew that some scopes of work would be too large for the majority of DBE firms to perform alone, so a Mentor-Protégé effort was included to provide DBEs a realistic opportunity on these projects. One contract that made use of the opportunity was the electrical contract for the bridge structure. The contract was awarded to a DBE/Non-DBE joint venture team consisting of BRK Electrical Contractors, LLC, a DBE firm from the St. Louis area, and PayneCrest Electric & Communications, one of the largest electrical contractors in St. Louis. The successful partnership allowed BRK Electrical to gain valuable experience working on a major project, and also resulted in a $1 million savings on the project. The BRK/PayneCrest partnership provided a value engineering solution that replaced electrical conduit required in the project specifications with a less costly cable tray system. This innovative approach earned the project a national industry award. BRK owner

Prompt Payment Provisions

Since cash flow is critical for small and disadvantaged businesses, the MRB project implemented a 3-day requirement for payments due to subcontractors on the project. This requirement meant that an MRB prime contractor had just three days after receiving payment on an MRB contract to make payments to their subcontractors. Hitt said, “So that primes knew what payments were due to their subs, we informed them prior to the payment of their monthly estimate of the specific quantities and line items they would be paid for in the upcoming payment. This enabled the primes to know in advance which DBE subs would need to be paid once the payment arrived.” 22

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Photos: Courtesy of Missouri Department of Transportation and Illinois Department of Transportation


Marion Hayes said, “The Mentor-Protégé relationship with PayneCrest was a great opportunity for us. We had worked with them before, but the mentor-protégé relationship created a deeper marriage. Their EVP of operations mentored six of our key foremen on how to cut costs in operations. I had the opportunity to spend time with the CEO and CFO of the company, and we had the chance to learn about their 60-plus years of experience in building a culture of reducing costs for their customers.” Project Success

“It’s a good story to tell,” Hitt said. “I think the key to our success has been having a great deal of transparency in the process. We did early pre-bid meetings to make contractors aware of the requirements on this project and held DBE/ prime contractor mixers right after the pre-bid meetings to give firms a chance to network. We also made sure we got the community involved through our roundtable sessions. Also, workforce participation has been important, because we know if we can have minorities working on the project, they may be likely to start businesses in the future.” The now famous Lewis and Clark Expedition departed from St. Louis in May 1804 earning the early settlement the title of “Gateway to the West” for its role as a launching point for people seeking new opportunities west of the Mississippi

The MRB project was a successful collaboration between contractors, DBEs, community leaders and state Department of Transportation officials.

River. In the same way, it is hoped the MRB project will be a launching point for new opportunities in transportation to the 117 DBE firms, and the minority and women workers comprising more than 23 percent of the total project workforce. The Lewis and Clark Expedition lasted approximately 28 months and established its place in history as a major success. MoDOT and other stakeholders involved in the MRB project hope the final report on the new Mississippi River Bridge will establish this project as a major success in creating a gateway to inclusion for DBEs and workers in the St. Louis area. Find out more about the Mississippi River Bridge project at www.newriverbridge.org.

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business community & workforce, providing services both locally & nationally in the areas of: Business Growth • Economic Development • Education Reform Governmental Relations • Industry Diversity • Infrastructure Labor Relations • Professional Development Project Analysis • Safety • Transportation Quality People. Quality Projects.

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Hispanic Contractors Associations PROMOTES BUSINESS GROWTH

By Amikka Smith

importance to us… safety in the workplace, issues associated with pay, bonding and ispanic contractors are diversity. The idea is not just the fastest growing segto grow the network for the ment of the construcnational purpose, but it’s also tion industry. Hispanics repreabout creating strength on the sent approximately 44 percent ground—that’s really where of construction laborers in the needs are. A national orthe United States, according ganization like ours is only as to the most recent report of strong as our local chapters.” labor force characteristics, The NHCA vision is to published by the U.S. Bureau be a nationally recognized of Labor Statistics (BLS). organization that represents The National Hispanic local and regional chapters. Construction Association Currently there are 13 local Julie Logan, vice president and business manager of corporate (NHCA) was founded in chapters affiliated with the supplier diversity at Wells Fargo presents HCAC Brilliance Award to 2009 to focus on promoting national organization, with an Javier Jauregui of Aztec Construction. economic growth, advanceexpansion goal of developing ment and equal participation 20 local chapters by the end of of Hispanic-owned construction businesses throughout the the year. Local affiliates align with the strategic vision of the United States. The organization represents more than 4,500 national chapter, and then develop specific goals based on the companies across the country that are directly affiliated with needs and priorities in their geographic region. NHCA chapters – with a total reach of over 35,000 Hispanic The Hispanic Construction Association of the Carolinas construction firms. (HCAC) provides support to a regional membership based in NHCA provides its members with advocacy, education, South Carolina and North Carolina, offering business technibusiness networking and procurement sercal support, contracting assistance, networking vices. Frank Lopez, the former president and counseling services. The group held its and CEO of the United States Hispanic annual N.C. Hispanic Construction Conference Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), is and Brilliance Awards program in June 2013 currently the CEO of NHCA. Lopez said to celebrate Hispanic firms that have excelled having a national organization allows their in the construction industry. Brilliance Awards members to have a voice. presented at the conference honored significant He continued: “To have a national orgaaccomplishments in the construction indusnization that correlates and brings levertry, including: Remodeler of the Year, Trade age to perspective issues of importance to Contractor of the Year, General Contractor of Hispanic contractors based in Washington, the Year, Supplier of the Year and Partner of DC is very important; it gives us a level of the Year. The goal of the event was to recognize maturity with regard to how to address and achievement, promote networking and develop Frank Lopez, CEO, National continue to grow and respond to issues of partnerships among potential employers. Hispanic Construction Association

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Carlos Renza, a member of HCAC and the owner of HiTech Building, said, “We have been introduced to so many general contractors that didn’t even know we existed, and that’s HCAC President Julian Arcila and HCAC Events Coordinator Luisa Moreno. going to bring us more opportunities, because now they know that not only do we exist, but that we are supported by the Hispanic Construction Association.” HCAC currently represents 300 members ranging from general contractors, subcontractors, construction workers and vendors. HCAC identifies Hispanic contractors and business owners who want to grow their companies and assists with promoting and exposing them to potential clients and partners. HCAC provides members with varying levels of training, including: education, certification, learning how to create blueprints, building and project management skills. The HCAC leadership team said that the biggest challenge for the organization is overcoming cultural differences.

Julian Arcila, executive director of HCAC, said, “One of the things that happened is when some people came to this country, they did it without knowing the language, without knowing how the system works; in so many cases they are missing important information. We need them to learn how to do business in America.” He said that Hispanic contractors generally are very good in construction, but don’t always possess the needed management skills. “What we’re trying to teach them is how to run a business. We have a lot of education programs, and we have public relations events where they can come and meet potential partners,” Arcila said. HCAC currently partners with Wells Fargo, Builders Mutual Insurance, Novant Health and other corporations to provide quality services to members and their growing businesses. In the fall, HCAC will team up with Lowe’s to host the Hispanic Construction Trade Show in Charlotte, North Carolina. The October 19th event will coincide with other activities and programs scheduled to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15). Individuals and organizations interested in locating an affiliate NHCA chapter can visit the website at www.nationalhca.com.

HCAC staff, board members and award winners at the 2013 HCAC Brilliance Awards Program.

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USDOT Inspector General Completes DBE Program Audit

O

n April 23, 2013, the United States Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a 40page report titled “Weaknesses in the Department’s DBE Program Limit Achievement of its objectives.” The report addresses the Department of Transportation’s (Department) administration of its Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program. The OIG report assessed the Department to see if: (1) the Department provides adequate DBE program management; (2) The Department’s Operating Administrations and recipients sufficiently oversee and implement the DBE program; and (3) the Department achieves its program objective to help develop DBEs to succeed in the marketplace. OIG’s audit concluded that the Department does not provide effective program management for the multibillion-dollar DBE program. Specifically, OIG found several weaknesses in the Department’s administration of the DBE program. The final report states:

1. The Department has not issued comprehensive, stan-

dardized guidance or provided sufficient training to recipients responsible for implementing the program. 2. The Department has not established a single line of accountability for the program, such as by assigning overarching DBE program management to a single Department level entity. Instead, USDOT takes a fragmented approach by assigning only limited DBE Program management responsibilities to three separate Departmental offices. 3. The Department’s three assigned offices do not fully implement even the limited responsibilities they have been assigned. 4. The Department’s Operating Administrations (Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, and Federal Transit Administration) and recipients do not adequately oversee or implement the DBE pro-

gram, partly due to the Department’s lack of integrated program management and standardized guidance on DBE practices. 5. Recipients of Department funding were identified as having weak DBE certification and contract oversight practices, which increase the risk that ineligible firms will be certified as DBEs. 6. The Department has had limited success in achieving its program objective to develop DBEs to succeed in the marketplace because recipients place more emphasis on getting firms certified as DBEs rather than assisting them to identify opportunities and to market themselves for DBE work on federally funded projects. To help the Department improve administration of the program, the OIG report offers eight recommendations for remedial action. These recommendations include:

1. Develop comprehensive guidance and best practices for

DBE program implementation by invoking DBE stakeholders from all levels. The guidance should provide direction for conducting certification processes, certification reviews and on-site project reviews. 2. Formally assign one department office the responsibility and accountability for integrating and managing the DBE program. 3. Develop program performance measures to regularly assess the DBE program and evaluate whether it is achieving its objectives. 4. Establish a centralized departmental data system for collecting and tracking DBE commitment and award information and require that the operating administrations implement procedures to ensure that recipients are accurately reporting DBE award and other financial information.

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5. Maintain the relevant DOT website to ensure it contains

current information and includes accurate DBE program contact information. 6. Develop an oversight and compliance plan with the operating administrations to identify specific, required oversight processes and reviews and ensure that a sufficient number of reviews are performed based on assessed risk. 7. Require that recipients track and regularly report utilization data to the operating administrations, including each DBE’s number of years in the program and the number of DBE subcontracts or prime contracts received since first becoming certified. 8. Require that the operating administrations work with recipients to develop ways to improve utilization rates and require the establishment of business development programs for firms that have not received DBE work for several years. Department Response In response to the OIG report the Office of the Secretary of Transportation (OST) issued a written rebuttal that stated, among other things, that the OIG’s findings and recommendations were “based primarily on the opinion of a handful of state officials, without apparent detailed causal analysis linking guidance and programmatic issues” and that these “community perceptions” are not “dispositive evidence of specific deficiencies.” Although OST was skeptical of the report, the Office partially accepted some of the OIG recommendations or declared them already achieved, but rejected others. After OST’s response to the audit report, OIG issued a final conclusion: “DOT has spent billions of dollars through its DBE program to remedy past and current discrimination against socially and economically disadvantaged individuals competing for federally assisted projects. However, weaknesses in DBE program management and implementation have allowed ineligible firms to win DBE contracts and have left the majority of DBE firms without work. The Department’s fragmented DBE program management structure can only be effective if Operating Administrations and recipients are offered clear DBE guidance and training with which to implement the program. Because the Department’s DBE guidance and training is not sufficiently comprehensive, it must take a more proactive oversight approach to ensure that recipients comply with DBE regulations and make progress toward achieving DBE program goals. If the Department does not provide more comprehensive guidance and training or strengthen its program management, the DBE program may continue to be exposed to billions of dollars in fraud, waste and abuse.”

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Stakeholder Response Two agencies recently combined to issue a response to the OIG report. The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO) published a joint formal response to the report via COMTO’s website at www.comto.org. Their joint response states, in part: “APTA and COMTO appreciate the IG’s efforts to ensure the Department’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program functions fairly and efficiently. While we agree with the IG’s recommendation to centralize program oversight in a single office within the Office of the Secretary (OST), we do not believe the report provides a full picture of the program, it strengths, or weaknesses. Moreover, we believe the most valuable program modification necessary to ensure the future success of the program and satisfy the IG’s concerns – nationwide certification of qualified DBE firms – has been lost among the criticism of the Department’s efforts. We agree with the IG’s concern over fragmented program administration and oversight. Spreading program responsibilities among three separate, independent entities within the Department has proven highly ineffective. The results appear uncoordinated, at best, and suggest the individual offices work at cross purposes. The lack of coherent guidance for states, public agencies, DBE and non-DBE firms stems from this lack of unified purpose and unified command. We believe this situation can only be corrected through assignment of full program responsibilities to a single office within OST. While the other offices will certainly play important roles in craft-


ing policies, effective oversight, and efficient program administration, one office must be designated to coordinate those efforts and ensure consistency in all aspects of the program.” FHWA Associate Administrator for Civil Rights Warren Whitlock recently outlined strategies to improve his agency’s implementation of the DBE Program. Key among his strategies to improve the DBE program are efforts to enhance DBE business development by changing the way states administer the DBE Supportive Services Program. Going forward states will have to ensure that the chief executive of the state transportation agency reviews and approves the states’ plans to develop DBE firms. Whitlock also discussed his goal to improve training opportunities for DBE program staff, and to review states’ Civil Rights programs structure to ensure maximum effectiveness. FHWA also issued a statement to American DBE Magazine: “FHWA has worked aggressively to improve its service to the DBE community, including offering workshops and summits to ensure DBE firms are aware of upcoming business opportunities and that they understand federal requirements. While we have made great progress, we know we have more to do, and we will continue to work hard to find new ways to improve our service to the DBE community.” American DBE Conclusion The federal DBE program offers the only meaningful opportunity for minority and women-owned firms to play a significant role in the transportation design, construction and

concessions industry. The transportation industry has longstanding and pervasive cultural, racial and gender barriers that make it difficult for diverse firms to gain consistent business opportunities to develop the required capacity to compete with established non-diverse firms. The only partial exception to this reality has been in markets where engaged leadership has made diversity a business imperative. Therefore, given the historical and persistent barriers faced by diverse firms to gain opportunity in the transportation industry, a vibrant and well-administered DBE program is critical to meeting the program’s stated objective of creating a “level playing field” for firms owned by minorities and women. The OIG’s audit concludes that this is not the case. The audit points out several major issues regarding program oversight, administration, certification, business development and compliance that have long been a problem in the DBE program. Unfortunately, the Department’s response to the audit report thus far suggests that their plan is to continue business as usual, seeking to make continued tweaks and adjustments to DBE regulations and guidance, while leaving the major deficiencies listed in the OIG report unaddressed. Accountable program management, compliance, and effective certification and business development are in need of significant improvement to create level the playing field that offers DBEs a fair chance to compete.

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The Legal Landscape of the DBE Program: What DBEs Need to Know Now In recent months, there has been much talk across the

nation about affirmative action, especially in view of the Supreme Court’s decisions in the challenge to the University of Texas’ admissions policy, and by extension, the gutting of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. These developments may have caused some to question By Colette Holt whether contracting programs designed to create equal opportunities for minority and women-owned firms are likewise in danger of being thrown out by the courts. Here’s what DBEs need to know now. The USDOT DBE Program is Constitutional The good news is that the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program for U.S. Department of Transportation contracts is on solid legal ground. While DBEs must be vigilant in protecting their interests, there has emerged a judicial consensus that the program developed by USDOT meets constitutional tests. Every court has held that the DBE program regulations at 49 C.F.R. Part 26 are constitutional. The regulations were revised in 1999 to meet the test of strict judicial scrutiny applied by the courts to race-based government decision-making – the highest level of legal review. Ever since, the courts have found that Congress amassed extensive evidence that race remains a significant barrier to the participation by minority firms in federally-assisted transportation contracts, and that the DBE program is narrowly tailored to address that evidence. The programs for the Minnesota and the Illinois Departments of Transportation have been upheld, and most recently, the challenge to the California Department of Transportation’s implementation of the DBE regulations was unsuccessful. There are new cases pending against the Minnesota and Illinois DOTs, but they are in the early stages and the outcomes are unlikely to be different from that of the earlier decisions. Interestingly, there have been no challenges to the Airport Concessions DBE program under 49 C.F.R. Part 23. The major concessionaires have been very supportive of the program and of ACDBEs. 30

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State and Local Programs Have Mixed Judicial Records The legal track record of the DBE program is in contrast to the fate of many state and local Minority and Women Business Enterprise (M/ WBE) programs. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 1989 decision in City of Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co., dozens of local programs were found not to meet the parameters of strict scrutiny. Examples of these ordinances include Atlanta, Philadelphia and Columbus. Governments that then modeled their evidence on the DBE program’s approach have fared much better. Denver and Chicago both were held to have sufficient evidence to continue to use M/WBE goals to level the playing field for their contracting opportunities. Disparity Study Methodology Matters The courts have required state and local governments to conduct “disparity studies” to support the use of race- and gender-conscious approaches to level the contracting playing field. Disparity studies are designed to answer the questions whether the agency has a “strong basis in evidence” that race and/or gender discrimination remain significant barriers to equal contracting opportunities, and if so, what available measures are narrowly tailored to remedy that discrimination. Since Croson, it has become clear that the failure to conduct good studies is likely to be fatal if the program is challenged. On the other hand, good studies that apply broad remedial principles have led to strong programs that get results.


The courts have accepted various approaches to conducting disparity studies. Methodologies vary from the very conservative to those fully in line with affirmative action’s remedial objectives. DBEs need to educate themselves on the different ways to determine DBE availability, collect prime and subcontract data, analyze disparities, evaluate economy-wide evidence of barriers, develop anecdotal evidence and craft recommendations. The results of the different methodologies can be stark. Study recommendations range from programs that are fully inclusive of all racial and ethnic groups and women, and that set significant DBE or M/ WBE goals (Illinois DOT, State of Maryland, City of Houston); to programs that exclude certain racial or ethnic groups or white females and set low goals (California DOT, Oregon DOT, State of North Carolina) - or apply the program only to small contracts (New York City) or recommend no race- and genderconscious measures at all (Cities of Boston and Birmingham). DBEs need to understand these differences and get involved well before the agency issues its request for study proposals. Organize to insist on being part of the initial development of the RFP and having a seat at the table during the study process. Waiting until the consultant provides the report is too late. Data Collection and Program Monitoring are Often the Weakest Links There are excellent, reasonably priced electronic, web-based data collection and program monitoring systems available. The failure to collect accurate, complete and timely data not only greatly increases the costs and time to conduct a disparity study, but also means that the agency doesn’t know whether its contractors are in compliance and whether its goals are being met. Data are critical to evaluating a program’s success and ensuring the DBEs have equal opportunities, as well as a solid legal defense.

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market) will be guaranteed coverage regardless of medical history—with comprehensive benefits—including hospital, emergency and maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health as well as certain wellness and preventive services. Individual and small group plans whether inside or outside of the exchange are required to offer essential health benefits packages. Although large group plans are not required to do so, they are prohibited from imposing lifetime or annual limits on any essential health benefits that they do offer. Households with incomes between 133 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $15,000 for a single person to about $92,000 for a family of four) that enroll in the healthcare exchange marketplaces will be eligible for premium assistance or subsidies financed by the federal government. The sliding scale of assistance will require this group to make a premium contribution of 3 percent up to 9.5 percent of income toward the cost of their health insurance. It’s projected that the average subsidy could be approximately $5,000, however, low-income married couples could be left out of this important benefit. For example, if two people each earn $30,000 annually, individually, they would be judged to have incomes at about 300 percent of the FPL. But if that couple were to marry, their combined income would total $60,000, or about 500 percent of the FPL as a household of two and therefore would make too much money for the subsidy. Also, if an individual’s employer offers minimum health benefits, they would not be eligible for any premium subsidies. As of this writing, 26 states have defaulted to a federallyrun exchange, seven states are implementing a partnership exchange where the federal government assists states with specific portions of the exchange, and 17 are establishing their own state-based exchange. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 7 million people nationally, including self-employed individuals and those who do not currently receive health insurance through work, will obtain coverage through exchanges in 2014. This number is expected to rise to 13 million people in 2015, and 24 million by 2016 as the individual mandate penalties rise. States need large numbers to buy insurance through these online marketplaces to build greater market power, economies of scale and more stable risk pools; thus helping to control the growth of health care spending and insurance costs. This growth is important also to lessen the risk of adverse selection. In insurance jargon, those who need the coverage most have a higher propensity to purchase.

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The Employer Mandates

ObamaCare does not require employers to offer health insurance coverage to their employees, however, it does impose a penalty on businesses that fail to insure their employees in certain circumstances. Small employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from any penalties. As an incentive to small businesses to maintain their health insurance programs, the law provides tax credits. Those for-profit small businesses with fewer than 25 employees who have average annual wages of $50,000 or less and who contribute at least 50 percent of the premium for a health plan, can receive a tax credit toward their costs of health care premiums. From 2010 through 2013, the tax credit will cover up to 35 percent of an eligible small employer’s contribution to employee’s health insurance. Beginning in 2014, they can receive a maximum tax credit of 50 percent of the employer’s contribution to premiums. Those same employers with 10 or fewer full-time employees would be eligible for the full tax credit. For those large employers, businesses with more than 50 fulltime equivalent (FTE) employees (30 hours or more weekly), there are two situations where a tax penalty could be incurred. First, if the company does not offer health insurance coverage and at least one full-time employee purchases coverage from the exchange marketplace and receives a subsidy, the company would be assessed an annual penalty of $2,000 per FTE, excluding the first 30 employees. And second, if a large employer offers health insurance coverage to their full-time employees, but the coverage does not meet the law’s standard for affordability or minimum value, the company incurs a tax penalty of the lesser of $3,000 per FTE receiving premium subsidy from the exchange marketplace or $2,000 per each FTE. To meet the standard of affordability, the employee’s share of the premium cannot exceed 9.5 percent of their annual wages and the plan must meet at least 60 percent actuarial value. These tax penalties begin January 2014, when the exchange marketplaces are active. ObamaCare also establishes numerous additional provisions and reporting requirements for employers, including reporting the value of employer-sponsored health insurance on employees’ W-2 forms; and for those with more than 200 employees, executing auto-enrollment of full-time employees into the health insurance programs. To remain informed about ObamaCare and its implementation, visit the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services online at www.HHS.gov/HealthCare or log on to www.healthcare.gov

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THE CALL TO ACTION With all these planned changes and unknown outcomes, how can an individual, family and business soften the impact of ObamaCare on their bottom line? • Continue to stay informed and become knowledgeable about ObamaCare. • Engage healthcare and accounting professionals who can help you stay compliant. • Educate your employees about ObamaCare. Many may be eligible for premium subsidies through the exchanges or Medicaid. • Educate your family members. Many family members are uninsured who could benefit from the premium subsidies or Medicaid. • Buy medical and long-term care insurance now. Premiums are still determined by age and right now you are the youngest you will ever be. • Institute a culture of wellness, personally and corporately. By replacing coffee and donuts with fresh fruit and yogurt at meetings, adding healthy choices in the vending machines and establishing health-oriented competitions for employees and your family, are simple ways to introduce healthy options. • Explore adding ancillary benefits through group or voluntary plans like disability, life insurance and long-term care insurance if you don’t or will not offer health insurance. These can be less expensive benefits and provide high value. • Get healthy, stay healthy. The best way to control health care costs is to take better care of your health. Sandra Moody is Managing General Agent for Dehan Enterprises Insurance & Financial Services Agency, LLC, providing professional insurance and financial services.


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data, train your customers on your security measures and share information with other M/WBEs. The first step you can take is to protect your customer data. A phishing scheme needs a list of names to email and mislead into taking action. By being more vigilant about protecting your email lists and customer data files, you can limit the chances that a phishing scam targets your business. Next, train customers on your company’s normal security measures. Educate them about what to expect from you and what they should red-flag immediately. Let them know how to report things that look like phishing to you promptly, so that you can respond more quickly and become informed about

any attempted phishing schemes in progress. Finally, share information with other M/WBEs. Phishing is often not an isolated activity that hits just one firm. Phishing schemes tend to work in groups through industries, such as financial services and e-commerce sites that have common functionality, according to the Anti-Phishing Work Group. Phishing is not a new phenomenon, but it is becoming more pervasive as consumers spend more time interacting virtually. Watch for signs of unusual activity, educate customers, share information and respond promptly to keep your customers’ trust and minimize the threat that phishing poses to your business. (Copyrighted 2013 @ DiversityPlus Magazine)

On the Web at www.AmericanDBE.com


We Mean Business The mission of the City of Columbus Equal Business Opportunity Office is to promote the inclusiveness of minority and women owned businesses within the city’s procurement process and to facilitate the equitable awarding of contracts to minority and women owned business enterprises via race and gender neutral tools. Contact EBO, at 614-645-4764, or visit us online, at Columbus.gov to learn how quick and easy it is to get your business ready, willing, and able. Melinda Carter, Executive Director

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Preparing DBE Professionals to Succeed New and seasoned professionals administering the DBE Program are fortunate to have several organizations that share the mission of fostering diversity and inclusion for DBEs in the transportation industry. The organizations host annual training and development programs to provide professionals a chance to network with each other, acquire updated industry information and to receive training for leaders in the DBE program. During the summer of 2013, these organizations sponsored their annual training events. Here are brief highlights from their efforts to develop and equip DBE program administrators. Southern Transportation Civil Rights Executive Council (STCREC)

STCREC hosted its Training Symposium in Charleston, SC, August 26-30. The bi-annual event alternates with the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Civil Rights Conference to provide civil rights program professionals annual training to better administer programs at the federal and state The STCREC Training Symposium was hosted in Charleston, SC. level. FHWA Associate Administrator for Civil Rights Warren Whitlock presented his strategy to advance civil rights programming at the federal and state level, and discussed the importance of a well-organized civil rights structure to facilitate effective program administration. The Training Symposium also included breakout sessions containing five different tracks of study for conference attendees. These tracks included Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, Contractor Compliance, Title VI–Nondiscrimination, Title VII–State Internal EEO, and ADA/Section 504 (American with Disabilities Act). Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO)

COMTO recently sponsored its 21st Annual Transportation Braintrust Program at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Conference in Washington, DC. The topic of discus-

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sion was Transportation Infrastructure: Big Opportunities for Small Businesses. Highlights of the session included remarks by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, and former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater. Secretary Foxx communicated the importance of equal access to contracting opportunities for disadvantaged businesses and lauded the ongoing efforts of the USDOT Office of Small Disadvantaged DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx (center) joins panelists Business Utilization at the COMTO event in Washington, DC. (OSDBU) in advancing opportunities for DBE Firms. The session also included a panel discussion featuring Terry Bellamy, director of the District Department of Transportation in Washington, DC; L. Joe Boyer, CEO of Atkins North American Division; Kimberly Freeman Brown, chief of the Washington, DC office of Green For All; Jim Kupferer, managing director of Fluor’s Global Location Strategies Practice; and Cynthia Jones Parks, founder of the Atlanta-based DBE firm Jones Worley. The panel discussed the opportunities and challenges presented by transportation projects delivered using public-private partnerships (P3). The panel emphasized the need for government entities to maintain control of the P3 process and to make sure the public good is served when using this contracting method. This control includes making certain DBE program initiatives are aggressively administered on P3 projects. Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC)

AMAC hosted its Annual Business Diversity Conference in San Diego, CA, June 8-11. The conference provided a wide array of training and development courses for DBE program administrators, ACDBE/ DBE firms and prime concessionaires/contractors. Key among these courses was the federally-required DBE certificaAMAC leadership gathers at the Annual Business Diversity Conference in San Diego. tion training for


recipients performing ACDBE certifications. AMAC also presented results on its research into increasing ACDBE concessions opportunities in the rental car industry. While ACDBEs acknowledged AMAC’s efforts in this challenging industry, some emphasized the need for ACDBE ownership opportunities in the Bob Ashby presents durairport rental car industry. A highlight ing the ACCA National Training Institute. of the conference featured an interview and presentation with public relations expert Judy Smith, the inspiration behind the hit television show “Scandal.” Smith encouraged conference participants to always be prepared for crisis situations in life by having a strategy to handle situations when they arise. Finally, AMAC presented awards to organizations demonstrating success in creating business opportunities for diverse businesses. Award winners included the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, Richmond International Airport, Philadelphia

International Airport, Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport, Conley Financial Group and Paradies. American Contract Compliance Association (ACCA)

The ACCA hosted its annual National Training Institute August 20-25, in Baltimore Maryland with the theme “Fostering Innovation and Diversity through Education.” More than 300 diverse business program administrators and businesses received in-depth training on a wide variety of diverse business compliance topics including administering civil rights program, DBE Certification, DBE Supportive Services Programs and administering compliance reviews. ACCA is the only organization that offers an industry certification process based on completing a required number of courses at the annual training event. Participants completing 42 hours of training (usually takes two years) receive a Certified Compliance Administrator certification, and participants completing 84 hours of training (usually takes 4 years) receive the Master Compliance Administrator Certification.

Colette Holt

& Associates YOUR EXPERT ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION AND CONTRACT COMPLIANCE

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RHCA Connects DBEs with Transportation Opportunity

Representatives from DFW Airport and prime contractors at the DFW Business Opportunity Meeting, sponsored by RHCA and other diverse business agencies.

The Regional Hispanic Contractors Association (RHCA) was founded in 1995 with the mission of making it easier for the next group of Hispanic contractors to start their own businesses. Since then the RHCA has grown to become one of the largest affiliates of the National Hispanic Contractors Association. President John Martinez said, “[The year] 2013 is a special year for us. We are celebrating our coming of age anniversary. We turned 18 years old, and this coincided with the final purchase of our 11,000-square-foot headquarters. We currently have over 1,300 companies who are members including Hispanic, African-American, Asian and Women-Owned construction firms, as well as the major general contractors doing business in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.” As transportation infrastructure investment has boomed in the Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) area, RHCA recognized the need to connect members with this significant opportu-

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nity. “With nearly $15 billion worth of highway projects under construction or in development in our area, the ability to align contractors with regional highway transportation providers is critical,” Martinez said. To help provide a consolidated structure for area disadvantaged, minority, women, small and historically underutilized businesses (D/M/W/SBEs and HUBs) to take full advantage of transportation contracting opportunities, RHCA worked with other partners to create the Cooperative Inclusion Plan (CIP). Partnering organizations represent a network of entities that are committed to facilitating increased diversity participation in highway procurements and providing opportunities for training, mentoring, networking and business development for D/M/W/SBE and HUB firms. Other partners in the CIP include the Black Contractors Association, Regional Hispanic Contractors Association and the Associated General Contractors of Texas. Major highway providers in the region, the Texas Department of Transportation and the North Texas Tollway Authority, have also joined with the CIP member agencies to advance current initiatives that are aimed at ensuring the region’s diverse makeup is carried throughout its procurement processes. To this end, the RHCA and other CIP members sponsored the DFW Airport Construction Business Conference to connect businesses to opportunities at the Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport. The event connected more than 100 business owners with representatives from DFW Airport to discuss upcoming projects. Martinez said, “We are excited about the transportation projects coming to our region. The CIP members plan to continue providing valuable programs and services to get diverse companies involved in these opportunities.” To learn more about RHCA, visit www.regionalhca.org.


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American DBE Magazine Fall 2013. Subscribe to print issues at http://AmericanDBE.com