Friday, April 4, 2014

Congresswoman Fudge, Governor Kasich request pilot program to increase minority business participation in federally funded transportation projects in Cleveland

Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) and Ohio Governor John Kasich (R-OH)

From the Metro Desk of Cleveland Urban News. Com and The Cleveland Urban News.Com Blog, Ohio's Most Read Online Black Newspaper and Newspaper Blog. Tel: 216-659-0473 

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) and Ohio Gov John Kasich have each sent letters to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx urging the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) to grant the state of Ohio a waiver to the Department’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program for upcoming projects in the city of Cleveland. 

Kasich is requesting the USDOT waiver to enable the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) to implement a pilot project that would increase minority business participation in projects to reflect the City of Cleveland’s demographics. 

Congresswoman Fudge, whose majority Black 11th congressional district includes the city of Cleveland, indicated her strong support for the state’s request, noting in her letter that recent federally funded transportation projects have not resulted in contracts reaching all disadvantaged groups and city residents equitably.

 "According to recent Census data, the population of the city of Cleveland is 53.3% African-American, 33.4% non-minority, 10% Hispanic, 1.8% Asian, and 0.3% American Indian," said Fudge in the letter."To offer an example of a recent DBE participation breakdown on a project in Cleveland, the Innerbelt Bridge phase one reflects a breakdown in participation by DBE-qualified firms." 

That breakdown, says Fudge, reflects" 6% African-American, 56% non-minority women, 3% Hispanic, 5% Asian, and 29% Native American. 

"It’s clear these figures reveal socioeconomic inequity," the congresswoman said.

Gov. Kasich’s letter to Sec. Foxx indicates the urgent need to subdivide DBE goals to achieve diversity in upcoming projects

“ODOT began implementing a program for the second phase of the Cleveland Innerbelt project to increase minority business participation in a meaningful, substantive and representative manner," said Kasich in his letter. "Some strategies include focused outreach, expanded training opportunities and technical assistance, mentoring programs and reimbursement for some costs associated with becoming pre-qualified to work on ODOT projects.”

Kasich said also that "while I believe these strategies will have the effect of improving disadvantaged participation, more urgent steps are required to have an immediate effect on this current project.” ( / (