Lincoln, Pryor, Berry, Snyder Announce $194K to Support Minority, Female Contractors In Construction Industry

Washington – U.S. Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor and U.S. Representatives Marion Berry (AR-01), Vic Snyder (AR-02), and Mike Ross (AR-04) today announced that the Arkansas  Department of Transportation will receive $194,864 to identify and recruit minority and female contractors currently performing construction-related work to encourage them to apply for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification. The funds will also help pay for outreach and education to benefit these contractors.

 Funds will go the Arkansas State Highway Department, who will contract with the Arkansas Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Contractors Association, Inc. to carry out the intended tasks.

 Law encourages federal surface transportation program to contract about 10 percent of the funds made available for projects to small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. In order to qualify for the certification – known as Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certification – that would allow a small firm access to these contracts, persons must own 51 percent or more of a “small business,” prove they control their business, and establish that they are disadvantaged within the meaning of Department of Transportation regulations.

In addition to helping identify and recruit socially and/or economically disadvantaged persons, this funding will help train certified firms in Department of Transportation expectations, rules and regulations, and provide business management assistance, technical assistance and other training and development to qualified Disadvantaged Business Enterprises.

 “These funds will help strengthen a critical workforce in Arkansas that is responsible for the construction of the state’s infrastructure,” Lincoln said. “With this money to support disadvantaged businesses competing for transportation contracts, we will ensure that those who work for small contracting firms have the same opportunities as those workers who are employed by bigger businesses. These funds will help teach new skill sets, and ensure that our workforce can be more productive. I will always fight to ensure that our small businesses – which play a critical role in our economy – have the resources they need to be successful.”

 “The construction industry helps boost local economies and drive development, and it is important to ensure that contractors from all backgrounds are able to create and grow small businesses,” Pryor said.  “These federal funds will help make sure that female and minority contractors have the resources they need to build successful businesses and create good jobs in their communities.”

 “There are a lot of small businesses in Arkansas that are doing great work and deserve the same opportunities for receiving transportation contracts,” Berry said. “This is a great effort toward acknowledging many of our minority and female contractors, and giving them the support they need through training and other resources so they remain a viable and important part of our economy.”

 “This funding is a win-win,” Snyder said.  “Helping qualified contractors in Arkansas be fully competitive ultimately creates jobs and strengthens small business within our state.” 

 “The Arkansas Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Contractors Association has been very successful in carrying out the activities of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Supportive Services Program Work Plan, which has benefited the DBE community,” said Dan Flowers, director of the Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department. “This new money will be helpful in continuing this important program.”