New outreach program will connect small, large businesses
The Oregon Department of Transportation is piloting a new web-based outreach program as part of the newly formed Oregon Small Business Initiative, or OSBI. OSBI is a partnership of the ODOT, Associated General Contractors Oregon-Columbia Chapter, and the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs. The pilot will connect interested prime contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers with upcoming ODOT bid opportunities. Oregon contractors and suppliers will be invited to register for the pilot program so ODOT can evaluate its effectiveness.
“ODOT is in a unique position to help large companies meet up with small companies and form relationships,” said ODOT Office of Civil Rights Manager Michael Cobb. “And we know that relationships are the key to success in the complex world of doing business with the state.”
In the pilot program, potential contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers register by filling out a short online survey about their companies; this information is stored in a project-specific database of company profiles. Just before ODOT’s official bid announcement for an upcoming project on U.S. 26, primes will get company profiles of all the subcontractors and suppliers interested in bidding this project. Subcontractors will get a similar list with profiles of the primes that plan to bid. In this way, all the interested parties can begin to learn about each other.
Company profiles include information such as how much experience and capacity a business can bring to the project. Chris Humphries, president of the web-based service provider, EcoLogistics, likens the program to a fishing derby that stocks the pond before the event and lets participants know how many fish are in the water, what size they are, and clues about how to catch them.
“This pilot is really about getting the right information to the right people earlier than they usually get it,” Humphries said. “Contractors get more time to connect with and qualify prospective bidders, and small businesses get a better way to get their ‘foot in the door’ with primes and ODOT projects.”
The program is not just another notification service or list of interested contractors, according to ODOT Civil Rights Manager Cobb. Small and large subcontractors can opt-in to an electronic introduction service that lets them know which organizations are interested in teaming up on bids; this can be an important way for an organization to enhance its ability to successfully bid on, receive and complete ODOT projects. Then the business is able to add to its resume, its experience and its capacity, making it more likely to qualify for and win future contracts.
ODOT invites all interested parties to attend a workshop about this new pilot program after the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs Contractors Committee meeting, 9 am, Friday, Oct. 11, at 4134 N. Vancouver Avenue in Portland. EcoLogistics representatives will be available to explain the program and help contractors and suppliers sign up. For more information, call ODOT Civil Rights, 503-986-4350.