MARCH 26, 2021 – Because a top priority for GoTriangle is to ensure that disadvantaged businesses have opportunities to bid on capital contracts, the agency sponsored a free webinar Friday to help small-business owners learn how best to navigate the process.
The webinar, attended by a capacity crowd of more than 150, covered the benefits of getting certified as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, the details of the procurement process, tips for delivering a project and an overview of the e-Builder software that many government agencies use to manage construction projects.“When I started as CEO at GoTriangle last year, I wanted to make sure we were partnering with DBE businesses as much as possible because it’s important that we expand opportunities where we can,” says Charles Lattuca, pictured at left, GoTriangle CEO and president. “We couldn’t be more pleased that so many businesses participated in our webinar today, and we certainly will be looking forward to seeing more disadvantaged businesses taking part in bidding for government projects.”
Representatives of the City of Durham, the N.C. Department of Transportation and the N.C. Office of Historically Underutilized Businesses also participated in the webinar, which was held virtually.
“With the webinar, we wanted to share some information on what’s happening with GoTriangle,” says Sylvester Goodwin, director of EEO/DBE at GoTriangle. “We also asked NCDOT to talk about how to become a certified DBE and the City of Durham to talk about its commitment to using minority businesses as well.”
As an entity that receives federal transportation funds, GoTriangle sets goals each year regarding the percentage of its spending that goes to Disadvantaged Business Enterprises. The main goals of the DBE program are to ensure nondiscrimination in the awarding and administering of DOT-assisted contracts and to create a level playing field by providing small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals an opportunity to compete for federally funded DOT-assisted contracts.“We wanted these businesses to understand that we care, we want to connect with you and there’s more to come that we hope you’ll be part of,” says Richard Major, director of capital development at GoTriangle. “The attendance today was very encouraging and, in the fall, we plan to host an even larger meeting to help people make connections with us and with one another.”
The webinar was particularly timely because the COVID-19 pandemic has created additional challenges for many firms, says Goodwin, pictured at left.
“We just wanted to provide some information to help their businesses, let them know about opportunities,” he says. “Traditionally, minority and small businesses face a lot of barriers, and we wanted to provide some opportunities for them to step up their business.”
As the regional transit agency in the Triangle, GoTriangle works with Wake, Durham and Orange counties and the area’s other transit agencies on transit plans and capital projects. GoTriangle handles bus stop construction contracts for the City of Durham on behalf of GoDurham and also is responsible for building many bus stops in Wake County.
‘Just great news’
For fiscal year 2019 through fiscal year 2021, GoTriangle has led the construction or improvements for 65 bus stops for GoTriangle and GoDurham, with 85 percent of the value of the contracts going to DBE-certified businesses.
“We couldn’t be happier about the success we’ve had on the bus stop front,” Major says. “DBE businesses are usually mom and pop businesses, so this is just great news. With the webinar, we were hoping to be able to help other such firms learn some ropes and become more mature and sophisticated about how they conduct their bidding.”
As part of the webinar, Tammie Hall, director of the state’s Office for Historically Underutilized Businesses, and Lisa H. Wilson, DBE certification manager for the N.C. Department of Transportation, offered overviews of state programs and talked about the requirements to become certified as a DBE.
In addition, David Moore, senior procurement manager at GoTriangle, ran through the procurement process, and Willie Noble, GoTriangle’s manager of construction, talked about the project design and construction process. Geordian Herron, GoTriangle’s project controls support specialist, offered an overview of the e-Builder construction management software.
Upcoming capital projects
Katharine Eggleston, chief development officer at GoTriangle, also provided information about the major capital projects that GoTriangle is leading in the region so that DBEs would have an idea of what’s ahead. Those projects include a 37-mile commuter rail project between West Durham and either Raleigh or Clayton, a potential new regional bus transfer center in Research Triangle Park and construction of a new bus facility, known as RUS Bus, next to Raleigh Union Station in downtown Raleigh that will incorporate private development including mixed-income housing.
One reason GoTriangle chose to offer the webinar Friday was to cultivate relationships with businesses on the small projects so that maybe they could come back and work on bigger projects, Major says.
“If we helped one company, one firm, we’ll celebrate because we’ll feel like our mission was accomplished,” Major says.
For Goodwin, offering the webinar was just the right thing to do.
“We do a lot of business in the community, and we want to provide information to these businesses about how to do business with us and other government agencies,” Goodwin says. “We’re here for them.”
Find a video of the event here.