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.

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.