Lo­cal en­trepreneurs take front seat at Trans­porta­tion In­dus­try Procurement Day

EDC holds fo­rum to help busi­nesses pre­pare for, tap into $5 bil­lion in procurement

The Enquire-Gazette - - Front Page - By JOHNATHON CLINKSCALES jclinkscales@somd­news.com

Pro­vid­ing lo­cal small busi­ness own­ers with vi­tal in­for­ma­tion to help them pre­pare for and tap into procurement op­por­tu­ni­ties worth $5 bil­lion, the Prince Ge­orge’s Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (EDC) hosted its Trans­porta­tion In­dus­try Procurement Op­por­tu­nity Day on June 27 at its head­quar­ters in Largo.

Over 200 en­trepreneurs at­tended the fo­rum which fea­tured pre­sen­ta­tions by top ex­ec­u­tives from sev­eral agen­cies in­clud­ing the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Washington Air­ports Author­ity (MWAA), the Mary­land Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion (MDOT), the Mary­land Tran­sit Ad­min­is­tra­tion (MTA) and the Gov­er­nor’s Of­fice of Mi­nor­ity Af­fairs (GOMA). The pre­sen­ta­tions pro­vided in­for­ma­tion about spe­cific con­tract­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing bid so­lic­i­ta­tions and procurement fore­casts, as well as di­rec­tion on how to sub­mit bids on those lu­cra­tive con­tracts, ac­cord­ing to an EDC press re­lease.

“The goal is job cre­ation so we want them to be suc­cess­ful,” said EDC Pres­i­dent and CEO Jim Cole­man. “To­day, ev­ery­thing is online but you can­not beat bring­ing procurement of­fi­cers to­gether so they can meet face-to-face with our busi­nesses and with that, that starts off the re­la­tion­ships. Each of these busi­nesses will have a chance to build re­la­tion­ships with the de­ci­sion mak­ers on this $5 bil­lion.”

The EDC’s procurement op­por­tu­nity day is an in­te­gral part of its Ac­ti­vate Pros­per­ity ini­tia­tive, an ag­gres­sive three-year plan de­signed to rapidly grow the county’s busi­nesses by con­nect­ing them with valu­able re­sources and pro­grams; thereby, cre­at­ing more jobs for res­i­dents, the press re­lease noted.

Cole­man said he sim­ply wants busi­ness own­ers to close deals and win con­tracts.

“From there, you can learn specif­i­cally about your com­pany on how you can pro­vide your ser­vices to these dif­fer­ent agen­cies, you can

un­der­stand what their re­quire­ments are face-to-face and then from there you can com­pete,” he said. “They need con­tracts, cus­tomers and cap­i­tal. The EDC is on the fore­front in bring­ing our agen­cies to­gether to make that hap­pen be­cause when we do that, that cre­ates jobs.”

MDOT Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tions Man­ager Michael D. Smith be­gan the fo­rum with an over­view of Mi­nor­ity Busi­ness En­ter­prise cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion process con­sists of four steps which in­clude ap­pli­ca­tion, in­ves­ti­ga­tion, eval­u­a­tion and de­ter­mi­na­tion. Af­ter ap­pli­cants sub­mit an ap­pli­ca­tion along with sup­port­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion, an MBE of­fi­cer reviews the en­tire ap­pli­ca­tion pack­age, con­ducts an on-site in­ter­view and per­forms a job-site visit, if ap­pli­ca­ble. All find­ings are doc­u­mented in a writ­ten re­port. Then, the MBE Ad­vi­sory Com­mit­tee reviews the in­ves­tiga­tive re­port to eval­u­ate whether the ap­pli­cant firm meets all pro­gram re­quire­ments. Lastly, the com­mit­tee chair­per­son is­sues a writ­ten de­ter­mi­na­tion, ac­cord­ing to an MDOT in­for­ma­tion packet.

Smith said there is no cost to ap­ply for or main­tain cer­ti­fi­ca­tion with MDOT’s Of­fice of Mi­nor­ity Busi­ness En­ter­prise. There are, how­ever, five el­i­gi­bil­ity stan­dards each ap­pli­cant must meet which in­clude own­er­ship, mi­nor­ity sta­tus, con­trol, per­sonal net worth and size, he said.

“Any­body can es­sen­tially seek cer­ti­fi­ca­tion as long as you can show that you are so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged,” said Smith. “It’s a one-stop shop. Fill out the ap­pli­ca­tion to be con­sid­ered for all the pro­grams — the Mi­nor­ity Busi­ness En­ter­prise [MBE], Dis­ad­van­taged Busi­ness En­ter­prise [DBE], Air­port Con­ces­sions Dis­ad­van­taged Busi­ness En­ter­prise [ACDBE] as well as the Small Busi­ness En­ter­prise [SBE] pro­grams. You don’t have to fill out sep­a­rate ap­pli­ca­tions.”

The ben­e­fits of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in­clude greater ex­po­sure to gov­ern­ment- and pri­vate-sec­tor con­tract­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties; only MBE/ DBE cer­ti­fied firms can ful­fill the mi­nor­ity par­tic­i­pa­tion goals; and cer­ti­fied firms ap­pear on the Di­rec­tory of Cer­ti­fied Firms which is used by prime con­trac­tors, con­sul­tants, gov­ern­ment agen­cies and pri­vate-sec­tor com­pa­nies seek­ing mi­nor­ity busi­ness par­tic­i­pa­tion, ac­cord­ing to Smith.

Wen­dell Point, DBE/MBE pro­gram man­ager for the Pur­ple Line Tran­sit Part­ners, spoke about some of the bid op­por­tu­ni­ties for com­pa­nies that per­form work which in­clude haul­ing, as­phalt paving and milling, ero­sion con­trol, main­te­nance of traf­fic, saw-cut­ting, de­mo­li­tion of build­ings, fenc­ing, handrails and safety rail­ing, con­tam­i­nated wa­ter re­moval, haz­ardous ma­te­rial dis­posal, pave­ment de­mo­li­tion, as­bestos abate­ment ser­vices and even land­scap­ing, grass­ing and seed­ing, ac­cord­ing to an MTA pre­sen­ta­tion.

Point said firms should be DBE cer­ti­fied prior to sign­ing a con­tract with Tran­sit Part­ners de­sign­ers or con­struc­tors. DBE firms must also en­sure their North Amer­i­can In­dus­try Clas­si­fi­ca­tion Sys­tem codes are ac­cu­rately de­fined for the work they per­form, he said.

“When you seek op­por­tu­ni­ties with us, be very spe­cific as to what your com­pany does,” said Point, owner of Point Man­age­ment Group, LLC, who has over twenty-seven years ex­pe­ri­ence in the pub­lic sec­tor and pri­vate sec­tor. “We have to mit­i­gate risks so we want to know what you have and what you will be per­form­ing out there. … We need to make cer­tain those codes are rel­e­vant to that con­tract for us to ac­tu­ally con­tract with you.”

Ali­son Tavik, di­rec­tor of com­mu­ni­ca­tions from the Gov­er­nor’s Of­fice of Mi­nor­ity Af­fairs, of­fered guid­ance on lev­er­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion to se­cure procurement op­por­tu­ni­ties and rec­om­mended that busi­nesses at­tend pre-bid meet­ings to get ahead.

Ac­cord­ing to Tavik, only sub­con­trac­tors who are MBE cer­ti­fied can ful­fill the mi­nor­ity par­tic­i­pa­tion goal on a state con­tract. Al­though mi­nor­ity cer­ti­fied firms work for the prime/gen­eral con­trac­tor, MBE liaisons are their ad­vo­cates while per­form­ing on a con­tract, she said.

“I hear small busi­ness say all the time, ‘I need a con­tract from the state of Mary­land,’” Tavik said. “The state of Mary­land doesn’t buy any­thing. The agen­cies at the state of Mary­land are the buy­ers and there are more than 70. … What you have to fig­ure out, as you’re choos­ing this sec­tor, is what role do you want to play— are you try­ing to come in as the prime con­trac­tor or are you try­ing to come in as a sub­con­trac­tor so that you know who you’re work­ing for.”

MWAA Depart­ment of Con­tracts and Procurement Deputy Man­ager Kathy Ruhl pre­sented the dif­fer­ent types of so­lic­i­ta­tions of­fered, an eight-step procurement process and sug­ges­tions on how to cre­ate an ef­fec­tive bid pro­posal. She also cau­tioned busi­nesses to un­der­stand the re­quire­ments, demon­strate their firm’s ca­pa­bil­ity to per­form, pro­vide cur­rent and rel­e­vant ref­er­ences, know their com­pe­ti­tion, es­ti­mate costs re­al­is­ti­cally and fol­low the sub­mis­sion re­quire­ments.

“[The types of con­tract­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties that] we have [are] goods and ser­vices, de­sign and con­struc­tion and sim­pli­fied ac­qui­si­tions [up to $150,000],” said Ruhl.

Ruhl said goods and ser­vices con­sist of pro­fes­sional con­sult­ing ser­vices such as le­gal and au­dit­ing, cus­to­dial and po­lice, fire and river res­cue ser­vices. De­sign and con­struc­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties in­clude con­tin­u­ous im­prove­ment for air­port fa­cil­i­ties, the Dulles toll road and the metro rail pro­ject. Sim­pli­fied ac­qui­si­tions in­clude small pur­chases for rou­tine items in­clud­ing auto parts, of­fice sup­plies and elec­tri­cal sup­plies, she said.

For DBE cer­ti­fi­ca­tion, man­age­ment and op­er­a­tions must be con­trolled by one or more of the so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally dis­ad­van­taged own­ers; ap­pli­cants must prove own­er­ship and con­trol; pro­gram is race- and gen­der-con­scious; per­sonal net worth of ap­pli­cants must not ex­ceed $1.32 mil­lion; firm’s an­nual gross re­ceipts can­not ex­ceed $23.98 mil­lion or SBA size stan­dards; and firms must be cer­ti­fied in its home state. Air­ports Author­ity con­tracts that typ­i­cally in­clude DBE goals are ar­chi­tec­tural and en­gi­neer­ing ser­vices, con­struc­tion and con­struc­tion-re­lated ser­vices as well as air­port con­ces­sions, ac­cord­ing to a MWAA in­for­ma­tion packet.

“Procurement plays a crit­i­cal role in en­sur­ing in­tegrity and fair­ness in our con­tract­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties,” said Ju­lia Hodge, vice pres­i­dent of MWAA’s Of­fice of Sup­ply Chain Man­age­ment.

“The air­port is just a por­tion of what we do,” MWAA Dulles Cor­ri­dor Com­mit­tee Co-Chair­man A. Bradley Mims said. “We’re go­ing to con­tinue to come back and do this kind of thing as we move for­ward.”

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE PRINCE GE­ORGE’S COUNTY ECO­NOMIC DEVEL­OP­MENT COR­PO­RA­TION

Prince Ge­orge’s County Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion Pres­i­dent and CEO Jim Cole­man, front cen­ter, and his staff hosted a Trans­porta­tion In­dus­try Procurement Day on June 27 to help lo­cal en­trepreneurs tap into $5 bil­lion worth of procurement...

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