U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced that small and disadvantaged businesses will be better positioned to compete for large government contracts as the result of an expansion of the Department of Transportation's successful bonding education program. The Secretary made the announcement at the department's Second Annual Small Business Summit in Washington, D.C.
"When more small and disadvantaged businesses are bond-ready, more will be able to compete for large government contracts," said Secretary LaHood. "Helping small businesses helps the U.S. economy grow."
Most government contracts require a business to produce a bond to protect the government financially in the event the business is not able to complete a project under the terms of a contract. Lacking bonding capacity can severely limit the ability of small companies to compete for federal projects. The expansion of the department's Small Business Bonding Education Program, a partnership with Surety and Fidelity Association of America, is designed to help more businesses become bond-ready and better able to compete.
The program expansion consists of an educational workshop component and a bond readiness component. The educational workshops include a 10-week course designed to help small businesses improve their operations in order to become bonded or to increase their bonding capacity. The bond readiness component consists of one-on-one meetings with Surety and Fidelity representatives to assemble materials necessary to complete the bond application process.
Last year, Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta were chosen to pilot the program. This year, the program will expand to Baltimore, MD; Raleigh, NC; Miami/Orlando, FL; Denver, CO; New Orleans, LA; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; New York, NY; Seattle, Washington; Columbia, SC and Minneapolis, MN.
Today's conference, From Recovery to Beyond: Small Businesses Thinking Big, the premier small business conference for transportation-related businesses, drew more than 750 attendees who shared their experiences and knowledge about business ownership.
Other conference participants included former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, Rosemont and Seneca Partners Co-Chairman Hunter Biden, Judge Greg Mathis, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, actress Phylicia Rashad, actress and television host Holly Robinson Peete, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Johnson Publishing Co. Chair Linda Johnson Rice and Ariel Investments Chair John Rogers. Workshop moderators included Congresswoman Donna Edwards and Small Business Deputy Administrator Marie Johns.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Transportation's Small Business Program received an "A" rating from the Small Business Administration (SBA) for its accomplishments in supporting small business contracting, the highest rating an agency can receive and the fourth year in which the department received SBA's highest rating.