City seeks disadvantaged businesses |
Christine Metz

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City seeks disadvantaged businesses

The city is encouraging more businesses to take advantage of the federal government’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program for minority business owners.

The program requires governments that fund projects with federal dollars to award a portion of the contract or work to businesses that are certified as disadvantaged.

Under federal law, the portion of the work given to disadvantaged businesses should reflect the percentage of disadvantaged businesses in the community.

Anytime the city does a construction project that is partially funded with federal dollars, it tries to meet those portions.

A disadvantaged business is one in which at least 51 percent of the business is owned by someone who is black, American Indian, Hispanic, Asian-Pacific, Indian American, female or someone found to be disadvantaged under the Small Business Act.

City Transportation Director George Krawzoff said very few certified disadvantaged businesses exist in Routt County, which makes it difficult to award contracts locally. Often, the city has to award contracts to businesses outside of Routt County to meet those requirements.

“We found very few — zero, one or two. We tend to use the same ones over and over again,” Krawzoff said.

Working with mass-transit and airport projects, which receive large amounts of federal funding, Krawzoff deals with the need to use disadvantaged businesses more than anyone else in the city.

Krawzoff said the program is not one of quotas, but the city must show good-faith efforts to meet the stipulated portions. Although the program does not mean awarding outlandish bids to disadvantage businesses, they do get special consideration.

“Given a similar bid, we may pay more in order to give it to a (disadvantaged business enterprise) qualifier,” Krawzoff said.

City officials know that some businesses would qualify, but they are not officially certified as a disadvantaged business, so they cannot be used to meet the DBE program requirements.

“We have to show we tried to reach out to disadvantaged business enterprises and help them out,” Krawzoff said.

In an effort to get more disadvantaged businesses certified, Krawzoff will speak at the Success Steps Breakfast held Wednesday morning. Krawzoff will talk about the certification process for the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program and how it is used in federal and state transportation projects.

The seminar will be beneficial for any contractor or subcontractor, including carpet layers and interior designers, who may qualify to get DBE certified, Krawzoff said.