State launches campaign to recruit minority contractors

State launches campaign to recruit minority contractors

Credit: KING 5 News

A street-cleaning truck owned by Seattle Tunnel Partners cleans a section of road near the tunnel launch pit. STP has been criticized for not awarding work on the Seattle tunnel project to minority-owned subcontractors.

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by SUSANNAH FRAME / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @SFrameK5

KING5.com

Posted on January 9, 2014 at 5:39 PM

Beginning January 21 a series of workshops will be held across Washington state in an effort to award more state highway work to minority and women-owned businesses.

State officials are scheduled make more than 30 stops to provide education and support for small businesses that could apply for certification as a federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE). If certified as a DBE, the small businesses have a better chance at landing work on highway projects such as the 520 bridge and the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement. Federal rules require general contractors to hire a certain number of DBEs on projects funded with federal dollars.

“With our economy recovering, our investments in minority and women-owned and operated firms will help create jobs and build ladders of opportunity for thousands of small business owners,” said Gov. Jay Inslee.

The campaign comes at a time when Washington’s DBE program is riddled with problems. In November the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a report criticizing WSDOT’s administration of the DBE program, reporting that one contractor, Seattle Tunnel Partners, discriminated against small, minority-owned businesses and that WSDOT officials stood by and failed to intervene. The state awarded Seattle Tunnel Partners a $1.35 billion contract to build the tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

In 2012 KING 5 exposed rampant fraud and abuse in the state’s DBE program.

The “Get Certified” campaign is sponsored by Gov. Inslee, the Washington State Dept. of Transportation and the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises.

See a list of locations and meeting times for the Get Certified campaign.

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