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USDOT Seeks SDB/DBE, Infrastructure Connectivity

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has accused the rail industry of putting “profit and expediency” ahead of “the safety of the American people.” USDOT photo.

The U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU), the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. Department of Commerce Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) have announced a partnership program “to help small and disadvantaged businesses improve their access to capital, resources and relationships … to ensure that everyone can benefit from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

The agencies hosted a Business Forum at USDOT Headquarters on Sept. 20 with multiple panels featuring business leaders, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, SBA Administrator Isabella Guzman, and U.S. Department of Commerce for MBDA Under Secretary Don R. Cravins Jr. It also featured a “Business Matchmaking Session to help connect small businesses, large prime firms, and various transportation modal representatives from the federal, state, and municipal levels to offers small business owners an opportunity to hear first-hand from Administration officials how they can successfully market their services to state and federal agencies.” USDOT said it is “on target for 20% of our federal contracts to go to small and disadvantaged businesses.”

There are two USDOT-SBA MOUs (Memorandums of Understanding). The first will help the two agencies better support Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) in the transportation industry “by breaking down systemic barriers that have historically prevented SDBs and DBEs from fully benefiting from government contracting opportunities. It will help small businesses in transportation obtain bonds or increase their bonding capacity to compete in DOT-funded projects.”

The second MOU “reflects commitments by both agencies to provide additional access to capital for small businesses, with a focus on SDB and DBE firms. The MOU will make available to DOT stakeholders the network of SBA Small Business Investment Company (SBIC)-related resources and support from the SBA Office of Investment and Innovation to facilitate access to private capital for small businesses pursuing contract opportunities resulting from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

An MOU between USDOT and MBDA will help the two agencies “better engage and develop underrepresented Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) in national transportation supply chains and related high growth industries, through coordination of data sharing and reporting tools.”

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