Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program

About the Program

The Illinois Tollway extends our 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

Diversity and Strategic Development Team

  • Establishes specific DBE contract goals on construction and professional service contracts
  • 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 contract compliance site visits
  • Tracks and reports DBE payment data
  • Monitors mentor/protégé agreements and achievements for the Partnering for Growth Program 
  • Sponsors or participates in various networking and outreach events to raise awareness of the DBE Program

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 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:

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


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

Job Order Contracting Opportunities

Goods and Services Opportunities

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

Partnering for Growth

The Illinois Tollway has recently expanded the Partnering for Growth Program (P4G) to include construction firms.

P4G encourages contractors and professional services firms 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 by serving as mentors providing meaningful instruction, to DBE/ VOSB protégés in areas including:

  • Capacity building and prequalification
  • Contract documents, bids, proposals and/or statements of interest
  • Project management and quality assurance/quality control plan development
  • Change orders, claim filing, dispute resolution and scheduling
  • Accounting procedures such as cost of labor, production and overhead
  • Business operations including human resources, information technology, insurance and bonding, invoicing and marketing

P4G for Construction

P4G for Construction is term-based rather than contract-based, enabling participants to continue working on areas of development without being contingent upon contract awards, project milestones or completion dates. Contractors receive virtual bid credits that may be banked and used to offset future bids on Tollway contracts for participating as mentors under term-based agreements ranging in duration from 12 to 36 months.

The Tollway’s Technical Assistance Program providers conduct assessments of all prospective protégés, identifying areas of growth and providing training and support to supplement the efforts of mentors. Technical Assistance providers also coordinate opportunities to connect prime contractors with prospective DBE and/or VOSB protégés.

How to Participate

  1. Review the P4G for Construction guidelines and program documents.
  2. Contact a Technical Assistance Program provider, who will conduct an assessment and determine the next steps.

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 for Professional Services guidelines and program documents.
  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:

  • 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.

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.

How to apply:

  1. Submit a complete Technical Assistance Program application to your preferred provider. Click on the provider logos for contact information.
  2. An assessment will be conducted by the provider to determine applicant's needs and review program guidelines.
  3. A technical assistance plan will be developed to assist participants with business needs.

Applications who do not meet program criteria will be referred to other resources.


Program Services   Technical Assistance Application   Technical Assistance Brochure  



Technical Assistance Program Providers




ConstructionWorks, powered by the Illinois Tollway is a free program designed to link job seekers with opportunities for rewarding careers in Illinois’ high-demand transportation-related construction industry.

With a network of training partners throughout Northern Illinois, you’ll gain access to comprehensive job training, support, placement and retention services so that you can work, thrive and secure long-term employment in the construction industry.

ConstructionWorks supports men and women seeking career opportunities and advanced participation within the skilled building trades, including heavy highway construction. Services are available at designated locations throughout Chicago, Suburban Cook County, Waukegan, Aurora and Rockford.

Customized Construction Industry Training

  • Equipment operators
  • Carpenters
  • Electricians
  • Iron workers
  • Cement masons
  • Laborers

Am I eligible?

Individual participants must be:

  • 18 years of age or older
  • Eligible to work in the United States
  • Unemployed, underemployed or seeking career growth in the construction industry

How do I get started?

Visit any one of our local ConstructionWorks centers to meet with a career coach and get started on advancing your career in construction.

View list and map of provider locations

Contractors can reference the ConstructionWorks Operational Guide.

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 30 construction contractors and subcontractors who hold active Illinois Tollway ECP certificates. More than 360 ECP workers have been hired and employed – most of whom have gained union status – and have earned more than $18 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 and maintained by trade organizations, advocacy and workforce training agencies.

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

We encourage contractors to log in regularly, as the database is routinely updated with new applicants.

ECP Hiring Portal

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

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.

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 04/10/2018


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

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.