Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program

About the Program

The Illinois Tollway extends our Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program to include disadvantaged, minority- and women-owned business enterprises (D/M/WBE) on both construction and professional services contracts that are generated by the Tollway's Engineering Department.

Detailed description of the Tollway's DBE Program - Special Provision for DBE Participation - Updated 09/21/2015

Our Diversity and Strategic Development Team

  • Establishes specific contract goals for participation of D/M/WBE certified firms on construction contracts and professional service contracts (architectural, engineering, design, construction management and inspection)
  • Reviews and approves contractor utilization plans, including certification verification
  • Provides information on reporting requirements during pre-construction meetings
  • Reviews data submitted by prime contractors regarding payments made to D/M/WBE subcontractors
  • Performs periodic site visits for monitoring of contract compliance
  • Tracks and compiles data to show actual D/M/WBE participation based on payment dollars rather than commitments
  • Attends various outreach events to ensure awareness of the DBE Program
  • Conducts periodic outreach/networking events to disseminate information about the Tollway programs
  • Assesses viability of mentor/protégé partnerships on professional service contracts

Certifications are accepted from the following agencies

  • Illinois Unified Certification Program (ILUCP) – DBE Certifications (includes Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), Metra, Pace and City of Chicago)
  • City of Chicago Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification
  • Cook County MBE/WBE Certification
  • U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development Program Certification


To review the certification status of any firm, or to access to the DBE Program Certification Application to become certified, click either of the links below:

Business Enterprise Program (BEP)

About the BEP

The Business Enterprise Program (BEP) promotes the economic development of diverse businesses—those owned by minorities, women and persons with disabilities. This program applies only to the procurement of goods and services.

To participate, businesses must meet the following criteria:

  • Certified with the CMS BEP program at time of bid
  • 51 percent owned and controlled by a minority, woman or disabled person 
  • Owner must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien  
  • Annual gross sales must be less than $75 million

Important links

Other Agency Certifications Recognized

Note that the State of Illinois has a mechanism in place for recognition of certifications issued by the following other agencies:

  • Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT)
  • Chicago Minority Business Development Council (CMBDC)
  • Women's Business Development Center (WBDC)
  • City of Chicago
  • Chicago Transportation Authority (CTA)
  • Metra
  • Pace
  • Cook County


To continue your annual BEP certification, complete the Business Enterprise Program Annual Certification Renewal.

Job Order Contracting Opportunities

Goods and Services Opportunities

Partnering for Growth

The Partnering for Growth Program encourages professional services consultants (mentors) to assist disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE)* firms and veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs)** to become self-sufficient, competitive and profitable businesses.

The Partnering for Growth Program for DBE and VOSB in remaining firms provides a way for prime consultants to receive credit toward advertised goals for serving as a mentor and providing meaningful instruction, technical assistance and beneficial resources to a DBE and/or VOSB protégé, including:

  • Overall guidance and oversight of project work
  • Assistance with the development of a comprehensive project management plan
  • Assistance with the development of a quality assurance/quality control plan
  • Instruction on applicable laws, regulations and rules

Other forms of technical assistance may include:

  • Training in business operations such as invoicing, accounts receivable, marketing, business forecasting and budgeting, human resource and information technology development, selection techniques for insurance and banking relationships
  • Assistance in preparation of change orders, claim filing, dispute resolution and project scheduling
  • Assistance in the preparation of contract documents, proposals and statements of interest
  • Assistance in developing and implementing procedures in accounting for daily actual cost of labor, production and overhead


Partnering for Growth focuses on the development of mutually-beneficial business relationships.

For Mentors: The program helps mentors earn credit toward the contractual DBE or VOSB goal equal to the contract value paid to the protégé. Additionally, the Tollway offers mentors:

  • A 3-percent “bonus” credit toward the mentor’s contractual DBE goal for selecting a DBE protégé firm not previously mentored on a Tollway or Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) project.
  • A one-quarter percent “bonus” credit toward the mentor’s contractual VOSB goal for selecting a VOSB protégé firm not previously mentored on a Tollway or IDOT project.

For Protégés: The program enables protégés to gain  experience which may be used toward new pre-qualifications and improves the protégés ability to successfully compete for contracts.

For the Tollway: This program increases the pool of firms to support Move Illinois and fosters competition in the marketplace.

Technical Assistance Programs

Construction Business Development Center (CBDC)

The Illinois Tollway’s Construction Business Development Center (CBDC) provides free, one-on-one business training and technical assistance to disadvantaged, minority- and women-owned firms, as well as small and veteran-owned businesses to participate as prime and subcontractors on highway and vertical projects.

How It Works


Work directly with a construction business specialist to develop an Individualized Technical Assistance Plan (ITAP).

Using ITAP as your guide, your specialist will assist you via one or a combination of:

  • Seminars/workshops

  • Access to partner organizations and industry expert

  • Personalized assistance–typically done with a consultant

2. Technical Assistance may include:
  • Accessing Tollway Online Plan Room

  • Accounting and finance

  • Agency certifications

  • Bonding and insurance requirements

  • Business and marketing plan development

  • Construction-related software training

  • Contractor troubleshooting workshops

  • Estimating and bidding

  • Navigating online Tollway resources

  • Project management

  • Safety and field operations

3. Submit bids for construction opportunities.
For more information contact manager Paul Murtagh at 708-709-3692 or online.


For more information

CBDC Brochure

CBDC Application

Illinois Tollway Technical Assistance Program

The Illinois Tollway Technical Assistance Program is designed to prepare established firms including disadvantaged, minority- and women-owned business enterprise firms, veteran-owned small businesses as well as small businesses to participate as prime contractors on highway and vertical construction contracts.

Participants will receive comprehensive, customized business development assistance to build financial understanding and business plan development for increased business stability and growth in the transportation-related construction industry. Services are customized to the assessed strengths, challenges and needs of participating firms. This includes education, guidance and feedback on general business and construction-specific operations, including strategic planning and assistance with the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) pre-qualification application.




The HACIA Scholarship & Education Foundation (HACIASEF) is a non-profit 501c(3) organization whose mission is to provide on-going training and educational services to businesses and their employees in the construction related industry. HACIASEF strives to promote awareness of professional career opportunities and continues to raise the bar in its goal to promote the future leaders in the fields of technology, architecture, engineering, construction & professional services industries. HACIASEF believes all qualified construction business should have equal access to opportunities and education in their industry.


The Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce (ILBCC) was incorporated in 1997 to help small businesses access success through developing strategies to assist them in increasing their competitive ability and capacity. Since our inception we have seen steady growth and have worked with businesses and government agencies alike to help craft solutions in areas that directly help reduce economic disparity for our citizens and communities. For more than fifteen years, we have operated at the highest levels in public and private sectors to help create sustainable opportunities for African Americans, women, and minority owned businesses alike.

Veterans Business Program

State of Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) Veterans Business Program

The Illinois Tollway supports veterans and service-disabled veterans by assisting them when competing for Tollway contracts. To that end, the Tollway is evaluating all agency solicitations for inclusion of veteran-owned small business (VOSB) or service-disabled, veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) goals.

Criteria to participate in the Veterans Business Program include:

  • Currently certified with the Illinois Department of Central Management Services as VOSB or SDVOSB
  • 51 percent owned and controlled by a qualified veteran living in Illinois
  • Annual gross sales under $75 million

Vendors must be certified with CMS as a VOSB or SDVOSB at time of submittal on a Tollway project.

For more information about the Veterans Business Program and registering as a VOSB or SDVOSB

To locate registered VOSB or SDVOSB

Learn about Job Order Contracting opportunities

VOSB Partnering for Growth Program Guidelines


Veterans Business Program Resources

Veteran-Owned Small Business Program for Construction

Veteran-Owned Small Business Program for Professional Services

*Disadvantaged business enterprise ("DBE") means a business currently certified by the Illinois Unified Certification Program, a business currently certified by the city of Chicago or Cook County as a minority or women-owned business ("M/WBE") or a business currently certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) pursuant to the Small Business Act as an SBA 8(a) business, owned and operated by a socially and economically disadvantaged person.

**Veteran-owned small business or service-disabled, veteran-owned small business means a business currently certified by the Illinois Department of Central Management Services with annual gross sales under $75 million that are 51 percent owned by one or more qualified service-disabled veterans or qualified veterans living in Illinois.

Small Business Initiative

The Illinois Tollway's Small Business Initiative is intended to increase opportunities for small companies to participate in the agency's Move Illinois Program.

The initiative puts small businesses in a position to succeed and grow as prime contractors by:

  • Identifying select construction contracts, generally with values of approximately $1 million, that can be set aside specifically for small businesses
  • Establishing small business goals for select construction contracts on a project-by-project basis

View a detailed description of the Tollway's Small Business Goal Program - Special Provision for Small Business Participation - Updated 12/02/2016


To qualify for participation in the Small Business Initiative, firms must meet the following criteria:

  • Gross revenues of $14 million or less annually
  • Register in the state's Small Business Set-Aside Program at ipg.vendorreg.com
  • Meet specifications that may include prequalification with either the IDOT or Illinois CapitalDevelopment Board, which will be determined on a project-by-project basis

Opportunities for Small Businesses

This initiative builds on the Illinois Tollway's efforts to increase opportunities for businesses of all sizes. The Illinois Tollway already has been working to unbundle larger contracts into several smaller jobs, as well as actively defining small contract opportunities in amounts under $5 million.

View the bid-letting schedule for unbundled contract opportunities.

The Small Business Initiative is race- and gender-neutral, consistent with the Tollway's goal to ensure that business of all types and sizes have the opportunity to participate in its construction projects.

Small Business Set-Aside Program

The Small Business Set-Aside Program promotes contracting with small Illinois companies. To be eligible, companies must meet the following revenue criteria:

  • Retail or service businesses: less than $8 million
  • Wholesale: less than $13 million
  • Construction: less than $14 million
  • Manufacturing companies: 250 employees or less

For more information:

This program has specific benefits for providers of goods and services:

  • 673 supply/service classifications
  • Awards less than $80,000 are set aside for registered small businesses
  • Race- and gender-neutral, ensuring that businesses of all types and sizes have the opportunity to participate
  • All state procurements are considered for the set aside program

To be eligible, businesses must be registered in the state's Small Business Set-Aside Program and may need to be prequalified by IDOT.

Highway Construction Careers Training Program

In collaboration with the Federal highway Administration, IDOT initiated the Highway Construction Careers Training Program (HCCTP) in an effort to provide training and skill-improvement opportunities to assure the increased participation of minority groups, disadvantaged persons and women in all phases of the highway construction industry.  HCCTP emphasizes life-long learning and provides opportunities for further education and assistance to improve employability and is administered by the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB).

Pre-apprenticeship Training

Earned Credit Program

The ECP offers contractors and subcontractors a chance to earn bid credits toward future Tollway construction bids when they hire workers from a pool of qualified, pre-screened candidates that includes minorities, women, eligible offenders and exonerated individuals, veterans and other Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) eligible individuals. ECP training partners operate pre-apprenticeship construction training programs, pre-screen job seekers and then provide resumes to construction firms with current job opportunities.

There are more than 25 construction contractors and subcontractors who hold active Illinois Tollway ECP certificates. Nearly 250 ECP workers have been hired and employed – most of whom have gained union status – and have earned more than $12 million in wages since the program began in 2007.


ECP Hiring Portal

This portal provides an interactive tool which allows contractors to review, select and contact eligible ECP candidates. Designed to streamline the ECP hiring process, this portal contains the candidate’s resume, certificates and completed safety training courses. Candidate information is provided by and maintained by trade organizations, advocacy and workforce training agencies.

NOTE: Candidate information will be populated during the month of February. The Tollway expects to have a robust list of potential ECP candidates completed by early March.

We encourage contractors to log in regularly, as the database is routinely updated with new applicants. Registered contractors will be notified of new applicant updates.

QUESTIONS: Contact the Illinois Tollway Diversity Department online or call 630.241.6800 with questions about this service.

How the Earned Credit Program Works - For Job Seekers

ECP Candidate Eligibility

ECP candidates must meet the following criteria in order to participate in the ECP program:

  • Meet WIOA eligibility requirements as determined by  Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES)
  • Have construction experience or training via an ECP training partner or other pre-apprenticeship program recognized by the Illinois Department of Labor

How to Become an ECP Job Candidate

ECP training partners operate construction pre-apprenticeship training programs which include drug testing, education verification and preparatory classes. In addition, ECP training partners provide workplace readiness skills including resume preparation and interviewing techniques.

Contact a Tollway ECP Training Partner

ECP training partners provide the Tollway with resumes of pre-screened, qualified job applicants and WIOA eligibility approval as determined by IDES. The Tollway shares ECP job candidate information with contractors and subcontractors who have requested ECP candidate referrals. Contractors and subcontractors conduct the interviews and make the hiring decisions.

Equal Employment Opportunity Program


On construction contracts, the Illinois Tollway adheres to federal workforce requirements and works in conjunction with local unions and awarded contractors to facilitate achievement of all workforce goals.

Monitoring and reporting is a joint effort among awarded contractors, construction managers and diversity staff to ensure that:

  • Workforce data in the form of weekly certified payroll reports submitted by contractors to   constructionmanagers is reviewed to confirm achievement of established EEO goals (19.6 percent minority/6.9 percent female).
  • Periodic site visits are performed to confirm presence of workforce as reported.
  • Referrals of qualified workers are available to contractors seeking assistance in meeting their workforce goals.

Contractors are encouraged to visit the Tollway's Earned Credit Program section for information on how contractors and subcontractors can earn bid credits to make their bids more competitive while augmenting the construction industry workforce with qualified hires.

Detailed description of the Tollway's EEO Program - Special Provisions for Equal Employment Opportunity Program - Updated 09/22/2014