Diversity and Strategic Development


The Illinois Tollway Department of Diversity and Strategic Development is a driving force for increasing economic opportunities in the diverse communities we serve.


Inclusion is the Foundation of Everything We Do

As an economic engine for the region, the Tollway provides small, diverse and veteran businesses and individuals with opportunities to grow and succeed through our training programs, strategic partnerships and investments in infrastructure.

Diversity Programs

Our programs support long term success through training and business development opportunities, as well as a multitude of economic opportunities created by investments in infrastructure and the resources to ensure continued growth in a high-demand industry. We are committed to a collaborative effort that provides access, ensures participation and ultimately expands future growth and advancement.

The Tollway believes in opening the doors for individuals and firms interested in doing business with the Tollway and its contractors. Our access programs provide development opportunities to participate and ultimately success on Tollway projects and contracts.

Fostering inclusion at every level is fundamental to our diversity efforts. The Tollway creates economic opportunities and jobs for diverse participants on projects by setting aspirational goals that support small, diverse and veteran firms and workers.

The Tollway stands ready to help firms continue to advance and achieve their next level of success through business assistance and training opportunities.

Need Business Assistance?

Technical Assistance Program

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.


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Partnering for Growth

The Illinois Tollway’s Partnering for Growth (P4G) Program 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. Under the P4G for Professional Services, the protégé works on a specific Tollway contract with the mentor. 


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Small Business Initiative

The Illinois Tollway Small Business Initiative is a race- and gender- neutral program intended to increase opportunities for small construction companies to participate on Tollway construction contracts. The Tollway also unbundles larger contracts into several smaller jobs defining small contract opportunities in amounts generally under $5 million. 


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Looking For A Career?


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.


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Earned Credit Program

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


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A Competitive Edge

Bid Credit Incentives

Illinois Tollway offers contractors and subcontractors the opportunity to earn bid credits by participating in select construction assistance programs. Bid credits may be used toward future Tollway construction bids to lower their bid amount and increase the chances of winning the contract as the low bidder.

Current Bid Credit Incentive Programs:

There are more than 40 construction contractors and subcontractors who hold active Illinois Tollway bid credit certificates. Nearly 500 ECP workers have been hired and employed – most of whom have gained union status – and have earned more than $26 million in wages since the program began in 2007.

Read the Special Provision for Bid Credit Incentive Programs.

Marketing Edge for Subcontractors

Prime contractors have an additional incentive for teaming with subcontractors that participate in incentive programs: subcontractor-earned bid credits can be added to a prime contractor's bid in order to increase the chances of the team winning a contract as the low bidder.***

*** For subcontractor bid credits to be considered toward a bid, the submission must also include prime contractor bid credits. Bid credits submitted by subcontractors alone cannot be used and will not be considered.

Strategic leadership

Diversity And Inclusion Committee (D&I)

The Illinois Tollway Board of Directors established the D&I Committee to allow the Board to focus on diversity issues and policies, create access to sustainable jobs and foster increased opportunities for firms of all sizes and types. The Committee is composed of members of the Tollway Board and strives to increase participation of African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, women, veterans and certified D/M/WBE firms and individuals on Tollway contracts.

View Committee presentations

View Committee meeting schedule


Diversity Advisory Council (DAC)

The DAC was created to gain outside perspectives and assist the Tollway in building upon its established foundation of inclusion. The Council is composed of representatives from nearly 30 advocacy agencies, each with a long history of assisting small, diverse and veteran-owned businesses, as well as individuals seeking workforce assistance and training. The Council includes two subcommittees that allow members to focus on specific areas of interest or expertise:

  • Policy & Programs Subcommittee – reviews Tollway policies and diversity programs to recommend improvements or develop new policies that address disparities and eliminate barriers to participation
  • Workforce Subcommittee – examines existing workforce development initiatives including the Earned Credit Program to recommend improvements and develop new initiatives.

View the DAC policies and procedures

View the DAC member list

View the most recent DAC meeting presentation

Diversity Advisory Council Meetings

Diversity Advisory Council
December 6, 2023, 2 p.m.
Illinois Tollway, Central Administration building, 2700 Ogden Avenue., Downers Grove, IL

Policy and Programs Subcommittee
Late winter/early spring

Workforce Diversity Subcommittee
Late winter/early spring


Tollway DBE Disparity Studies

The Illinois Tollway seeks to ensure that diverse, minority- and woman-owned business enterprise firms have equal access to Tollway contracting opportunities and that the Tollway’s current DBE Program remains legally defensible and administratively successful.

Tollway 2023 DBE Disparity Study

The Illinois Tollway’s 2023 Disparity Study examining the agency’s contracting practices and  Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program is now available for public viewing here.

The Illinois Tollway’s DBE program is designed to reduce barriers that limit opportunities for small, minority- and women-owned firms to participate on construction and related professional services contracts awarded by the agency.

Learn about the 2023 DBE Disparity Study

  • Colette Holt & Associates presented the study at the Tollway Diversity and Inclusion Committee Meeting on May 11, 2023. 
  • The Tollway Board of Directors adopted the study and its recommendations at the May Board Meeting on May 25, 2023. Read the presentation here.



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Outreach and Networking Events

The Tollway sponsors and participates in outreach and networking events throughout the year. Should your organization wish to include the Tollway in any of your events, or to learn more about activities, please contact the Department of Diversity and Strategic Development at (630) 241-6800.

Illinois Tollway's Calendars
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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


Certification Participation

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:

Read the Tollway's DBE Special Provision.

Learn more about Certification Participation.