Technical Assistance Program

Program Goal

The Illinois Tollway Technical Assistance Program is designed to prepare emerging and established transportation-related construction and professional engineering services firms, including small, diverse and veteran-owned businesses to participate on highway and vertical construction contracts.

Program Overview

Participants 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.

Programs are either self-paced (participants determine how quickly the program is completed) or cohort-based (a group setting that invites a collaborative learning environment). In addition, providers offer support to help firms grow their businesses through networking events and creating partnerships on future contracts, including the Tollway’s Partnering for Growth Program.


The Illinois Tollway Technical Assistance Program offers construction firms guidance and feedback on general business and construction-specific operations including:

  • Strategic planning
  • Estimating
  • Assistance with IDOT pre-qualification applications
  • Post-award services

Professional Engineering Services

The Illinois Tollway Technical Assistance Program offers professional engineering services firms guidance and feedback on general business and engineering-specific operations including:

  • Statement of Interest preparation
  • Post-award services

Partnering for Growth


Program Goal

The Illinois Tollway’s Partnering for Growth Program (P4G) encourages prime consultants and contractors to assist disadvantaged, minority- and women-owned business enterprise (D/M/WBE) firms and veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) in remaining self-sufficient, competitive and profitable businesses.


Professional Services Capability Statements

Gain a Bid Advantage With Partnering For Growth

The Illinois Tollway’s Partnering for Growth Program for Construction encourages contractors and subcontractors to assist disadvantaged, minority and women-owned business enterprise (D/M/WBE) firms and veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) in remaining self-sufficient, competitive and profitable.

Partnering for Growth for Construction offers participating contractors the opportunity to earn up to $100,000 per year in bid credits that may be applied toward future Tollway construction bids to lower the bid amount and increase the chances of winning the contract as the low bidder. In a highly competitive industry, bid credits give contractors a bidding advantage on Tollway construction contracts.

Flexible Relationships

The Partnering for Growth Construction Program is term-based (12 to 36 months), enabling partnering contractors to continue working on areas of development without being contingent upon contract awards, project milestones or completion dates. Partnering for Growth agreements are possible with current subcontractors on existing projects.

Contractors have the flexibility to determine areas of assistance including business planning, project management, financial counseling and bonding, equipment utilization and submitting quotes. Illinois Tollway Technical Assistance Program providers are available to assist partnering firms at every step.

How to Participate


  1. Contact the Illinois Tollway
    Phone: 630-241-6800 ext. 3227
  2. Complete a Partnering for Growth enrollment form
  3. Gain access to the pool of qualified firms ready for partnerships
  4. Form a Partnering for Growth relationship with firm(s) and begin earning bid credits

Support for Mentors

Illinois Tollway Technical Assistance Program providers are available to assist both mentors and protégés at every step. All protégés will have been assessed and, when needed, have received comprehensive, customized business development assistance to prepare them for participation in a P4G relationship. Once protégés are evaluated, they are entered in a potential protégé pool to be reviewed by potential mentors.

Read the Partnering for Growth Brochure (02/2019)

Read the construction guidelines and program documents below.

P4G for Professional Services

P4G for Professional Services is contract based. Under this program, the protégé works on a specific Tollway contract with the mentor on agreed-upon scope designed to help expand the protégé’s technical capabilities and develop skills needed to work with the Tollway. Consultants receive credit toward advertised DBE and/or VOSB goals by participating as mentors on a specific Tollway contract.

Prospective protégés may market their firms to potential mentors in connection with a Tollway professional services solicitation. Mentors may include the P4G relationship in the statement of interest for a specific professional services solicitation.

How to Participate

  1. Review the P4G>Professional Services guidelines and program documents below
  2. Market your business to potential mentors prior to the Tollway’s Professional Services Bulletins in order to forge a P4G relationship to be included on the mentor’s statement of interest.

P4G Benefits

All parties involved stand to gain by participating in P4G:/p>

  • Both mentors and protégés benefit from newly formed business relationships.
  • Construction mentors earn virtual bid credits that may give a competitive edge in pursuing Tollway construction contracts.
  • Professional services mentors earn credit toward contractual DBE or VOSB commitments.
  • Protégés gain experience and valuable assistance to improve business practices.
  • Tollway increases the pool of firms to support Move Illinois and fosters competition in the marketplace.
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Small Business Initiative

Program Goal

The Illinois Tollway Small Business Initiative is intended to increase opportunities for small construction companies to participate on Tollway construction contracts.

Program Overview

The Small Business Initiative puts small businesses in a position to succeed and grow by:

  • Identifying select construction contracts, generally with values of approximately $5 million or less, specifically for small businesses to perform as prime contractors
  • Establishing diversity goals for select construction contracts on a project-by-project basis

Who Can Participate?

Firms must be registered with the State of Illinois  as a small business and meet the following criteria:

How to Get Involved

Firms participating in the Illinois Tollway Small Business Initiative must meet the qualification criteria and register within the Illinois Procurement Gateway as a small business. More information on the state’s Small Business Set-Aside Program may be found on the Illinois Procurement Gateway at

Firms already registered as a small business with the Illinois Procurement Gateway can register using the Diversity Program System Registration for Small Business Initiative. The Diversity Program System allows vendors the ability to easily register with the Tollway’s Small Business Initiative, complete online applications for registration, update contact information and look up registered firms.

All Small Business Initiative documentation must be completed through this electronic system. 

Earned Credit Program

Program Goal

The Illinois Tollway’s Earned Credit Program provides opportunities for historically underrepresented segments of the heavy highway construction workforce.


Gain A Bid Advantage With The Earned Credit Program

The Illinois Tollway’s Earned Credit Program (ECP) is a bid credit incentive program that allows any construction contractor or subcontractor to earn virtual dollar credits, or bid credits, that may be used toward future Tollway construction bids. Bid credits lower base bid amounts and increase the chances of winning the contract as the low bidder. Bid credits give contractors a bidding advantage on Tollway construction contracts in a highly competitive industry.

Contractors earn bid credits when they hire from a pool of eligible job candidates, including underemployed African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans, women, eligible offenders and exonerated individuals, veterans and other economically disadvantaged individuals.*

* ECP is a race- gender-neutral program. Candidate eligibility is determined through Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act income guidelines.

Bid Credit Rates

Bid credits are earned for each dollar paid to ECP workers on any Tollway construction project as well as any construction project in Illinois. Participating contractors earn bid credits at the following rates:

  • Operating engineers and structural steel ironworkers: 50 cents
  • All other skilled trades and fabricators: 40 cents
  • Laborers: 30 cents

Contractors can hire a first-time ECP worker and receive an additional $5,000 bonus bid credit once the ECP worker has accumulated 160 hours of work.


Operational Guidelines   Learn More About Bid Credit Incentives


Program Facts:

Contractors participating in ECP have been awarded nearly $400 million in Tollway construction contracts.

As little as $2,300 in bid credits have been used to win Tollway construction contracts.

Nearly 40 construction firms are already earning bid credits through ECP

How to Participate

  1. Find an ECP worker with the Hiring Portal**
    Contractors can use the Hiring Portal to search for eligible ECP candidates. This interactive online tool allows contractors to review, select and contact eligible ECP candidates. Designed to streamline the ECP hiring process, the portal contains the candidate’s resume, certificates and completed safety training courses.
  2. Retain ECP workers and continue to accumulate bid credits
    Your ECP worker can continue to earn bid credits for up to five years from the date of initial hire. Laid off ECP workers may also be hired by another participating contractor and earn bid credits for the remainder of the worker’s five-year limit. ECP bid credits do not expire.
  3. Submit bid credits with your bid
    Simply include your bid credit certificate with your bid submission to lower your base bid and increase your chances of being awarded a Tollway contract.

There are nearly 40 construction contractors and subcontractors who hold active Illinois Tollway bid credit certificates. More than 400 ECP workers have been hired and employed – most of whom have gained union status – and have earned more than $19 million in wages since the program began in 2007.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. If I already have ECP eligible workers on my payroll, can they be used to earn bid credits?
    Yes, any ECP eligible construction worker already on your payroll may earn ECP credits for your firm. Additionally, you may earn retroactive bid credits for up to three months.
  2. Do ECP hires have to be union members?
    Contractors hiring ECP workers should consult the agency’s contract specifications on a case-by-case basis to see if union workers are required.

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

Contact a Tollway ECP Training Partner to become an ECP job candidate

ECP training partners operate construction pre-apprenticeship training programs which include drug testing, education verification and preparatory classes as well as workplace readiness skills such as resume preparation and interviewing techniques.

The Tollway receives resumes of pre-screened, qualified job applicants and WIOA eligibility approval from the ECP training partner. The Tollway then 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.


Program Goal

The Tollway has partnered with the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership to launch ConstructionWorks, an innovative program to create a qualified pipeline of diverse men and women ready to enter careers in the heavy highway and related construction industry.

Your Connection to a Career in Construction

Through ConstructionWorks, participants will be connected to a network of experienced career and pre-apprenticeship training partners throughout Northern Illinois who offer customized construction industry preparation. Participants will have an unprecedented level of access to key industry resources throughout the region, including construction contractors and regional transportation agencies. To better assist with long-term career success, the program will also provide support services for participants after they attain employment.

To learn more about ConstructionWorks career training opportunities, please visit the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership website.

Your Connection to a Skilled Workforce

ConstructionWorks is designed to create a pipeline of diverse men and women ready to enter careers in the heavy highway and related construction industry.

Candidates are skilled, work-ready and represent most trades recognized by the U.S. Department of Labor including equipment operators, carpenters, electricians, iron workers, cement masons and laborers.

By hiring and retaining ConstructionWorks job candidates, all contractors—both prime and subcontractors—can earn bid credits to be used on future Tollway construction bids, lowering their bid amount and increasing the chances of winning the contract as the lowest bidder.

Participating contractors are also eligible to receive a $15 cash reimbursement for every hour worked by a ConstructionWorks apprentice hire on Tollway projects—up to $100,000 per contract.

ConstructionWorks job candidates are ready to work and have received an unprecedented level of access to comprehensive job training, support, placement and retention services. These individuals are prepared for careers and ready to thrive in Illinois’ high-demand transportation related construction industry.

How It Works

Contractors with ConstructionWorks hires working on Tollway contracts will earn bid credits that may be used toward future Tollway construction bids, as well as a cash incentive for each hour worked by ConstructionWorks hires. Both incentives are applicable for ConstructionWorks hires working on Tollway projects.

  • First Level Incentive—Contractors earn bid credits for employing ConstructionWorks hires on any public works project in the state of Illinois.
  • Second Level Incentive—Contractors earn an additional $15 per work hour cash wage reimbursement for ConstructionWorks apprentice hires, for all trades.

Participating ConstructionWorks contractors may apply bid credits up to a maximum bid credit cap assigned to each contract by the Tollway in order to lower their bid amount and increase the chances of winning the contract as the low bidder.

Labor GroupFirst Level Incentive:Second Level Incentive
A. Operating Engineers - Structural Steel Iron Workers75 cents for every dollar earned$15 an hour to a maximum of 
B. Skilled Trades and Fabricators65 cents for every dollar earned$100,000 per contract
C. Skilled Laborers55 cents for every dollar earned 


How to Get Involved

Hire a ConstructionWorks Program job candidate and start earning bid credits.

  1. Register to use our hiring portal
  2. Once hiring portal registration is approved, begin reviewing resumes and certifications from qualified ConstructionWorks participants.
  3. Contact candidates and schedule interviews.

Email the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership here with any questions.

Fill out the Tollway ConstructionWorks Contractor Request for Tradespersons

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program

The Illinois Tollway's Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program includes disadvantaged, minority and women-owned business enterprise (D/M/WBE) firms with participation goals for both construction and professional services contracts.

Firms must be certified at the time of bid. The Tollway’s DBE Program accepts certifications 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:
  • Small Business Administration SBA 8(a) Certification:

Read the Tollway's DBE Special Provision.

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. The Tollway evaluates 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


Veterans Business Program Resources

Veteran-Owned Small Business Program for Construction

Veteran-Owned Small Business Program for Professional Services

Business Enterprise Program (BEP)

About the BEP

The State of Illinois Business Enterprise Program (BEP) promotes the economic development of diverse businesses — those owned by minorities, women and persons with disabilities.

To participate as a BEP vendor on Tollway goods and services or Job Order Contracting (JOC) contracts, businesses must be certified with the State of Illinois Commission on Equity and Inclusion (CEI) at time of bid.

CEI BEP certification requires the following:

  • Have at least 51% of their business controlled by one or more minority groups, women, or persons with a disability
  • Have at least 51 percent of their business controlled by one or more minority groups, women, or persons with a disability
  • The owner must be a citizen of the United States or a legal permanent resident alien
  • Have annual gross sales of less than $75 million
Get BEP CertifiedSearch BEP Vendor Directory

Job Order Contracting


The Job Order Contracting (JOC) Facilities Program enables the Illinois Tollway to accomplish facility repairs and construction with a single, competitively bid contract, eliminating the time and expense of the typical design-bid-construct cycle for each project. General contractors competitively bid from a catalog of construction tasks with pre-set unit prices. The JOC Facilities Program allows the Illinois Tollway to decrease project duration and cost, while increasing quality.

In February 2016, the Illinois Tollway awarded eight general contractors five-year contracts to perform various facility repair and construction projects throughout the Tollway system. In most cases, the general contractors rely on sub-contractors to perform tasks related to each project.

General contractors have a 25 percent Business Enterprise Program (BEP) goal and a 3 percent veteran goal for the term of the contract. Subcontractors interested in participating in JOC projects need to contact the general contractor directly.

View the Upcoming JOC Projects

View the JOC Contractor Directory


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 construction managers 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 Bid Credit Incentives 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 via ConstructionWorks or the Earned Credit Program.

Detailed description of the Tollway's EEO Program - Special Provisions for Equal Employment Opportunity Program - Updated 04/10/2018