The Illinois Tollway Earned Credit Program
The Illinois Tollway Earned Credit Program (ECP) is a rewards initiative that allows contractors and subcontractors to earn bid credits toward future Tollway construction bids when they hire from a pool of qualified, pre-screened job candidates, including underemployed African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, women, eligible offenders and exonerated individuals, veterans and other Workforce Investment Act eligible individuals.
There are more than 20 construction contractors and subcontractors who hold active Illinois Tollway ECP certificates and hired and employed more than 200 ECP workers – most of whom now have union status.
The ECP is part of an effort to diversify and expand the pool of firms and individuals doing business with the Illinois Tollway.
Ensuring Qualified Candidates
The Illinois Tollway created the Earned Credit Program Advisory Council, which includes prime contractors and subcontractors, union representatives and training partners. Their mission is to promote the ECP program, refer candidates for hiring by contractors, identify candidate training needs and foster union partnerships.
Members of the Earned Credit Program Advisory Council:
- Acura Inc. (DBE)
- Black Contractors United
- Chicago Urban League
- Chicago Women in Trades
- Chicago & Cook County Building & Construction Trades Council
- Christy Webber Landscapes (WBE)
- Dawson Technical Institute
- Federation on Women Contractors
- F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielson
- GFS Signage
- Hispanic American Construction Industry Association
- IFI Group
- Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce
- Illinois Community College Board
- Illinois Department of Employment Security
- Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs
- Illinois Department of Transportation
- Lorig Construction
- Moraine Valley Community College
- Operating Engineers - Local 150
- Plote Construction
- Prairie State College
- Quad County Urban League
- Salute the Armed Forces
- Senate Transportation Vice-Chair
- South Suburban College
- St. Paul Church of God in Christ Community Development Ministries Inc.
- William Charles Construction
- Women Construction Owners & Executives
- Youthbuild Lake County
Be Part of the Earned Credit Program
Bid credits can afford contractors and subcontractors a bidding advantage in a highly competitive industry. A bidder can apply its ECP bid credits and include other subcontractors bid credits, to lower the bid amount and increase the chances of winning the contract as the low bidder. Many contractors and subcontractors are already earning bid credits to apply to their next Tollway construction bid. Don't let them beat your bid when you could have the lowest bid using your own earned credits - start earning bid credits today! Multi-million dollar contracts have been won or lost on the basis of ECP bid credits submitted.
Retain the ECP worker and continue to earn bid credits on wages paid by your firm on any project in the State of Illinois. The ECP worker can continue to earn bid credits for your firm for up to five years. Since ECP bid credits do not expire, credits can be applied to future bids on Tollway construction projects.
How the Earned Credit Program Works
For Construction Contractors
Find Out if You're Eligible
Any contractor or subcontractor who has had a previous Tollway construction contract, a current Tollway construction contract or who is seeking to bid on a future Tollway construction contract is eligible to participate in the ECP.
Hire ECP Workers Now
Contractors and subcontractors can contact the Tollway to request applicants from a pool of candidates with construction experience who are pre-qualified by the Illinois Department of Employment Security and meet state and construction employment requirements. A list of qualified referrals will be provided by the Tollway for your consideration.
Hire a New ECP Worker
Contractors or subcontractors can hire an eligible first-time ECP worker and receive a $5,000 bonus bid credit when the ECP worker has accumulated 160 hours or more of work.
Retain the ECP Worker and Continue to Accumulate Bid Credits
Put the ECP worker to work on a construction project anywhere in the State of Illinois and start earning bid credits at the following rates. Bid credits can be applied to future bids on Tollway construction projects.
- Operating engineers and structural steel ironworkers: 50 cents for every dollar earned.
- All other skilled trades and fabricators: 40 cents for every dollar earned.
- Laborers: 30 cents for every dollar earned.
Market Your Firm to a Bidding Contractor
Subcontractor-earned credits can be added to a prime contractor's bid in order to increase the chances of winning the contract as the low bidder.
Submit ECP Credits to Compete
For the ECP credits to be considered toward a bid, the submission must include an ECP certificate owned by the prime bidder. ECP credits submitted by subcontractors alone cannot be used and will not be considered.
For Job Seekers
How To Become a Pre-Screened ECP Job Candidate
ECP Training Partners operate construction pre-apprenticeship training programs and pre-screen job candidates to meet specific physical, drug-free and other requirements. In addition, ECP Training Partners provide job training and readiness skills including resume preparation, interviewing techniques, confirmation of a high school diploma or equivalent and information about specific construction trade requirements.
The ECP Training Partner will provide the Tollway with resumes of pre-screened qualified job applicants, Illinois Department of Employment Security eligibility approval and Tollway candidate referral forms. The Tollway then forwards ECP job candidate resumes to contractors and subcontractors who have current job opportunities and have requested ECP candidate referrals. Contractors and subcontractors conduct the interviews and make the hiring decisions.
Bid Credit Schedule
Please be advised that requests submitted for ECP bid credits will be processed on the following schedule:
- Monthly requests issued within one week.
- All other requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
This schedule ensures timely processing and provides contractors with up-to-date bid certificate information. All requests for ECP certificates must be made using Form 0006 and be accompanied by appropriate payroll reports.
Revisions to the Illinois Tollway Earned Credit Program (ECP) Special Provision
Effective on contracts advertised on or after July 8, 2015
The Illinois Tollway's Earned Credit Program (ECP) underwent an extensive review to help ensure clear, consistent and effective guidance for contractors participating in the rewards initiative. The review also included feedback from the construction industry and contractor communities.
The key revisions to the ECP Special Provisions are summarized below. Construction contractors are encouraged to review the special provisions in full.
- Open eligibility.
All Workforce Investment Act (WIA) eligible individuals qualify for the ECP. This includes African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Latinos, eligible offenders and exonerated individuals, women, veterans and other WIA-eligible individuals.
- Five-year employee eligibility earning cap.
ECP participants are eligible to earn bid credits for a period not to exceed five years from the first date of initial hire. This is inclusive of any layoff periods.
- Portable ECP candidate eligibility.
During the five-year eligibility earning period, an ECP candidate may earn ECP credits for different contractors.
- New hire bonus credit requirements (formerly union sponsorship bonus credit).
Contractors are eligible for a $5,000 bonus credit when they employ an eligible first-time ECP candidate, retain them for not less than 160 working hours and provide written documentation of employment and wages paid.
- 12-month retroactive credit limit.
ECP credit will only be given for ECP participants up to 12 months retroactively from the hire date with evidence of WIA eligibility and receipt of required documents.
- Inclusion of prime contractors' ECP credits in bid submission.
For the ECP credits to be considered toward a bid, the submission must include an ECP certificate owned by the prime bidder.
- Proportional allocation of credits.
ECP credits submitted by prime contractors and/or subcontractors will be applied proportional to the amounts originally submitted on bids.
- Standardized payroll reporting.
Certified payroll reports inclusive of the attestation page are required for processing ECP credits. A report is required to include: 1) contractor name, 2) week ending date, 3) project and location, 4) project or contract number, 5) candidate name and individual identifying number (last four digits of social security number), 6) work classification, 7) hours worked per day, 8) total hours, 9) rate of pay, 10) gross amount paid, 11) deductions, 12) total deductions, 12) net wages paid and 13) signed attestation page.
- Timeline for ECP certificate issuance and reporting.
Monthly request covering 30 days, submitted by the 15th day of the following month, will be issued within one week. All other requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Should there be any questions, please email the Department of Diversity and Strategic Development or call 630-241-6800 ext. 3227.