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Black Businesses win a chance to work on the $68 billion California High Speed Rail Project

December 2, 2012

Small businesses are slated to receive $6 billion

by Meaghan M. Mitchell

San Francisco – Associated Professionals and Contractors of California (APAC) is celebrating the historic inclusion of small, minority and disadvantaged business enterprise goals by the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) with a Small Business Opportunity Conference to be held Wednesday, Dec. 5. The conference is being held at the Empress of China, 838 Grant Ave., San Francisco, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Belva Davis
Mistress of ceremonies, famed Bay Area newswoman Belva Davis will introduce such notable speakers as Congresswoman Barbara Lee and featured keynote speaker Dan Richard during a luncheon. Attendees will have an opportunity to meet CHSRA leadership, including Board Chairman Dan Richard and CHSRA Chief Council Tom Fellenz, as well as other authority board members.

The workshops and panel discussions are designed for attendees that are small, minority, women and disadvantaged business enterprise owners interested in engineering and construction contracts on the first segment of the California High-Speed Rail Project in the Central Valley. Most of the shortlisted design-build teams and engineering and environmental contractors will be present to discuss contracting opportunities on the $68 billion project.

APAC President Diana LaCome said, “We are actively pursuing contract opportunities for SBE/DBE and DVBE firms on the project.” She went on to say, “It is crucial that the principals of the small firms meet and get to know the large prime contractors who will be bidding and negotiating contracts on all phases of the project over the next 20-plus years.” The small business program is targeted to receive over $6 billion of the estimated $68 billion high-speed rail budget.

After filing a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) against the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) and the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA), APAC prevailed and now the CHSRA has a small business program requirement with 30 percent SBE, 10 percent DBE and 3 percent DVBE goals. Members of APAC spearheaded the campaign to address the injustice of a contracting system spending public funds without any obligation to invest in a professional population that is equally qualified to perform the work tasks required.

The California High-Speed Rail system will traverse the entire state. This first phase is planned from Modesto to Bakersfield. California’s population is now 72 percent people of color, and unemployment in this Central Valley corridor is approximately 20 percent. Small business is the backbone of this state’s economy, and yet the CHSRA had virtually excluded small, minority, women and disabled veteran business enterprises from competing for these public funds.

Fred Jordan
“In a state as ethnically diverse as California we expect that the work is available to all taxpayers and all California firms,” commented APAC Board Chairman Frederick Jordan. “The high-speed rail project will be paid 100 percent with tax dollars. APAC wants to ensure that California citizens and taxpayers participate in a project they and their children will be funding.”

Conference honorees include U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, California Sen. Curren Price, FRA Civil Rights Director Calvin Gibson, FRA Equal Opportunity Specialist Rosanne Goodwil and Oren Sellstrom, an attorney with the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights.

The daylong conference starts at 8:30 a.m. with registration, followed by two panel discussions: one on design-build and the second on engineering and environmental issues. These panel discussions will be repeated in the afternoon following the keynote luncheon featuring CHSRA Board Chairman Dan Richard. The conference is expected to wrap up at 4 p.m.

Companies expected to participate in the panel discussions are the design-build teams California Backbone Builders, California High-Speed Rail Partners, California High Speed Ventures, Dragados/Flatiron/Shimmick and Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons. Engineering firms HNTB, Parsons, URS and Mott, Hatch, MacDonald are also expected to participate.

The pre-registered cost of the day’s conference is $100 for APAC or AAAE members, $125 for non-members. If not pre-registered, prices are $120 APAC or AAAE members, $150 for non-members. The conference includes continental breakfast, lunch and snacks.

Meaghan M. Mitchell, with Davis & Associates Communications, can be reached via meaghan@davis-pr.com.

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