Illinois Tollway Highlights Success of Its Partnering for Growth Program to Other Transportation and Industry Organizations
Since launching its Partnering for Growth program to help small, diverse and veteran-owned firms gain experience working on Illinois Tollway projects, the agency has seen a surge in those businesses participating in its construction and engineering work.
Tollway officials recently outlined the benefits and successes of the innovative program to other interested public agencies and construction industry groups at the Government Procurement Forum, which is affiliated with the City of Chicago’s Department of Procurement Services.
The Partnering for Growth Program pairs smaller, diverse businesses with larger, more established firms that serve as mentors, offering guidance and advice to assist the newcomers in learning how to follow Tollway-specific procedures and protocols while meeting the agency’s strict scheduling and deadline requirements.
In the years since its 2005 launch, Partnering for Growth agreements have been included in about half of all Tollway professional engineering contracts awarded, while about a third of all Tollway funds spent on engineering services has gone to diverse and veteran firms participating in the program.
The success of the program prompted the Tollway in 2018 to expand the program so construction firms also could participate. Since then, 25 agreements have been executed that allow prime contractors to mentor subcontractors working on Tollway projects.
Tollway leaders believes this type of mentoring program can be used successfully by other public agencies to help increase the pool of diverse, small businesses that are qualified to participate in their construction and engineering projects.
As part of its program, The Tollway has executed more than 200 agreements for professional engineering services between prime contractors and subconsultants, known as protégé firms. That work has resulted in professional services protégé firms earning an estimated $170 million.
Among construction businesses, mentoring and protégé firms together have earned nearly $3 million bid credits that they can use to help themselves better compete for future Tollway contracts.
Among those attending the forum were representatives from transportation agencies, including the CTA, Metra, Pace and the Illinois Department of Transportation, as well as from industry groups that included the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association.