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, veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and Small Business Initiative (SBI) firms in remaining self-sufficient, competitive and profitable businesses.


Illinois Tollway Technical Assistance Program providers are available to assist both construction and professional services mentors and protégés at every step. All protégés must have an assessment completed and, if needed, a comprehensive business development plan preparing them for participation in a Partnering for Growth relationship. Once protégés are evaluated, they are entered in a pool to be reviewed by potential mentors. Technical Assistance providers are also available to assist both mentors and protégés during the P4G relationship as needed.

Assistance is also available via the Tollway’s Building for Success Webinar Series. The series is designed to help businesses learn in detail about the various programs and opportunities the Tollway has to offer. The Building for Success webinar series takes place every Monday at 3 p.m. and all webinars are recorded and available for viewing online at your convenience.


  • Both mentors and protégés benefit from newly formed business relationships
  • Protégés gain experience and valuable assistance to improve business practices and obtain new prequalifications or expand current prequalifications
  • Construction mentors and protégés earn bid credits that may give a competitive edge in pursuing Tollway construction contracts
  • The new Emerging Technologies Partnering for Growth (P4G) Construction Agreement encourages short-term relationships focused on sharing the latest in construction equipment and technology
  • Larger professional services firms may mentor a D/M/WBE, VOSB or SBI firm priming a Tollway contract in a reverse P4G agreement
  • Tollway increases the pool of firms to support Move Illinois and fosters competition in the marketplace

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.
P4G for Professional Services Sample Documents
DBE Partnering for Growth Exhibit E - SAMPLE (02-2017)
P4G for Professional Services VOSB Template and Guidelines

Small Business Initiative

Program Goal

The Illinois Tollway Small Business Initiative is intended to increase opportunities for small construction companies with gross revenues of $14 million or less annually 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 and subcontractors
  • Establishing diversity goals for select construction contracts on a project-by-project basis
  • Providing liability coverage for on-site activities for contractors and subcontractors through the Rolling Owner-Controlled Insurance Program (ROCIP)

Who Can Participate?

To compete for work on Small Business Initiative contracts, prime and subcontractors must have gross revenues of $14 million or less annually.

Prime contractors and subcontractors participating on Small Business Initiative contracts must be registered in the program. Prime contractors may utilize the Vendor Directory in B2GNow to find registered subcontractors.

How to Register

Participating firms must register for the program using the Illinois Tollway Diversity Program System. All Small Business Initiative documentation must be completed through this electronic system. 

The Diversity Program System allows vendors to easily complete online applications for registration, update contact information and look up registered firms. 

Firms must also be registered with the Chief Procurement Office for General Services Small Business Set-Aside Program (SBSP) as a small business.  

Earned Credit Program


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.



The ConstructionWorks program is an innovative program that assists men and women into entering careers in the heavy highway and related construction industry. The program creates a pool of diversified candidates ready to work and linking them to hiring construction contractors.  

The ConstructionWorks program is funded by the Tollway and administered by the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership.   

ConstructionWorks services are conveniently available throughout Illinois.   

  • Awaken, 1643 North Alpine Rd Suite 104, Rockford, IL 31107
  • BCS North Suburban Cook County American Job Center, 1400 S. Wolf Road, Suite 200, Wheeling, IL 60090
  • SERCO Southwest Suburban Cook County American Job Center, 7222 W. Cermak Rd., North Riverside, IL 60804
  • St. Augustine College, 841 N. Lake St. Aurora, IL 60506
  • St. Augustine College, 3255 W. Armitage Ave., Chicago, IL 60647
  • OAI, 208 Forest Blvd., Park Forest, IL 60466
  • EQUUS Northside American Job Center at Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson Ave, Suite 1917, Chicago, IL 60640
  • Central States SER, 3948 W. 26th St., Chicago, IL 60623
  • Revolution Workshop, 3410 W. Lake St., Chicago, IL 60624
  • YMCA, 6600 S. Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago, IL 60637
  • YMCA, 839 W. 115th St., Chicago, IL 60643
  • St. Paul Community Development Ministries, 4550 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, IL 60653
  • KRA Chatham Workforce Center 640 E. 79th St., Chicago, IL 60619


For Employment Candidates: 

Start your career in Construction

By joining our program, you will gain access to comprehensive training, job placement assistance, and a network with construction companies that are hiring.

Through ConstructionWorks, candidates will be connected to an experienced team member who specializes in customized construction industry preparation.

To better assist with long-term career success, the program will also provide support services for candidates to overcome barriers to attain employment.

Interested? Complete the ConstructionWorks Candidate Interest form.


What You Gain


How It Works


Are you ready to start a career in construction?

  • Can you work outdoors in hot and cold environments?
  • Do you mind getting dirty on the job?
  • Are you able to work on your feet 8 hours or more a day?
  • Can you lift over 50 pounds?

If you answered YES!

To Qualify:

  • Must want to work in the construction industry.
  • Be 18 years of age or older.
  • Eligible to work in the United States.
  • Have a High School Diploma or GED.


For Construction Contractors:

The ConstructionWorks program provides you with direct access to a pool of diverse employment candidates with all levels of skills to fill your workforce needs. Our candidates are housed in the Tollway’s Hiring Portal, where you can search for the right candidates and track your efforts.

In addition, by hiring and retaining ConstructionWorks candidates, contractors—both prime and subcontractors are eligible to receive the following incentives:

First Incentive: Cash Reimbursement
For every hour worked by a CW hired candidate on Tollway projects, contractors can receive a $15 cash reimbursement. The maximum limit for this reimbursement can be up to an impressive $100,000, depending on the contract.

Second Incentive: Bid Credits
Bid Credits are virtual dollars contractors, and subcontractors earn for every dollar paid to a CW candidate on any Tollway construction project or any construction project in Illinois.

Bid Credits are a great tool that allows the contractor or subcontractor to accumulate them and use them to lower their bid and increase their chances of winning the contract as the lower bidder on future construction projects advertised by the Tollway.

ConstructionWorks Bid Credits are awarded as follows:

  • Operating Engineers and Structural Steel Ironworkers: .75 cents on the dollar
  • Skilled Trades and Fabricators – .65 cents on the dollar
  • Laborers – .55 cents on the dollar
  • First-time CW hires earn an additional $5,000 bid credit bonus after accumulating 160 work hours.

Note: Bid credits are incentives offered through three Diversity Programs, and bid credits are combined to use. These programs are ConstructionWorks (CW), Earned Credit Program (ECP), and Partnering for Growth (P4G). Here, you can see an overview of all three programs.

To hire a ConstructionWorks candidate and start receiving these amazing incentives. You can register to use the Tollway’s Hiring Portal.

Once your registration has been approved by the Tollway, you can begin reviewing our available ConstructionWorks candidates.

If you don’t find what you are looking for or would like individualized assistance, you can complete the Construction Contractors Interest Form, and a ConstructionWorks team member will reach out to you within 48 hours.

The ConstructionWorks program is funded by the Illinois Tollway and administered through the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership.

For additional information, contact the Illinois Tollway ConstructionWorks program or the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership.

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