|Mayor Announces Construction Empowerment Initiative
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Tamela Lee, Office of Economic Development
Mayor Announces Construction Empowerment Initiative
Program to Spur the Growth of Small Businesses, Including Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses, in the Construction, Professional Design and Construction Services Industry
(DENVER) Mayor John Hickenlooper unveiled plans Wednesday for an economic development program designed to increase City contracting with small businesses – including minority- and women-owned – in Denver’s construction, professional design and construction services industries. Dubbed the Construction Empowerment Initiative, the program seeks to ensure that business opportunities created by the expenditure of public funds are made available to all community members, providing a pathway for smaller and minority- and women-owned companies in the Denver construction market to grow, prosper and succeed.
“Given that the City of Denver alone spends more than $100 million per year on construction, the Construction Empowerment Initiative seeks to lower the barriers to success that constrain all small businesses in Denver’s construction and design market and that create special hurdles for minority- and women-owned businesses,” said Mayor Hickenlooper. “Not only will this effort affirm Denver nationally as a city of inclusiveness, it will also level the playing field for all smaller firms, ultimately resulting in small-business growth that will benefit the entire region.”
As a basis for the policy and program recommendations and in order to benchmark the proposed program’s progress, the City, led by the Office of Economic Development’s Division of Small Business Opportunity (DSBO), commissioned a third-party research firm, National Economic Research Associates (NERA), to perform a study examining the number of women- and minority-owned firms available in the Denver construction, professional design and construction services market and the extent to which such firms are being utilized. Study findings, feedback obtained from a DSBO Task Force of business representatives, and a December 2005 public hearing served as the foundation for the program recommendations.*
The new policy and program recommendations set forth in the Construction Empowerment Initiative are structured in a manner that will offer some level of assistance to all qualifying small businesses, while providing more assistance to the firms that need it most. Furthermore, the program will create additional growth opportunities for all small businesses through reforms and improvements in the City’s contracting system and processes.
Joe Blake, president and CEO of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, applauded the proposed program, commenting, “I’m impressed with the efforts of the City to build capacity through this program, which is designed in a way that empowers all small businesses, including minority and women-owned firms. At the end of the day, this is all about the continued economic success of our community’s small businesses – the people whose very livelihoods depend on a level playing field and a fairly administered program.”
“The DSBO Task Force commends the City for its ongoing commitment to addressing race and gender issues,” stated Ron Montoya, task force co-chair and president and CEO of PlastiComm Industries Inc. “We believe the Construction Empowerment Initiative transcends such issues, though, and encourages all small construction firms to grow and prosper.”
DSBO Task Force member Denise Burgess, president and CEO of BA Quality Control Inc. and a member of the African American Construction Council, added: “We feel this program provides the tools necessary for fostering small business growth – including minority- and women-owned – in the construction and related services industries, and we’re hopeful that the increased access to public contracts will also translate into more sustainable access to private sector contracts.”
The policy and program recommendations developed to help the City achieve the goals of the Construction Empowerment Initiative will be submitted to City Council, the construction industry and the general public for study, discussion and comment. After a public review and comment process involving Denver City Council, a revised final set of recommendations will be submitted by Mayor Hickenlooper’s administration to City Council for its consideration beginning in late October 2006.
The Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) works to create a local environment that stimulates balanced economic growth through job creation, business assistance, housing options and neighborhood redevelopment.
The Office of Economic Development’s Division of Small Business Opportunity (DSBO) helps promote small and disadvantaged businesses by providing access to contracting opportunities within the City and County of Denver. DSBO offers compliance assistance with City contracts, small business and disadvantaged business ownership certification, and compliance assistance for businesses located at Denver International Airport. The DSBO also manages the Denver Business Assistance Center.
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