Opportunity MDOT Opens Doors for Small, Minority, Women, Veteran and Disadvantaged Businesses
The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) recently launched Opportunity MDOT, an innovative initiative that connects small, disadvantaged and minority-, women- and veteran-owned businesses to economic inclusion programs as part of the I-495 and I-270 Public-Private Partnership (P3) Program.
Opportunity MDOT will provide access to training and advisory services and networking opportunities for minority and disadvantaged businesses. It’s a component of Maryland’s I-495 and I-270 P3 Program, which has an estimated investment of $9 billion to $11 billion to improve transportation capacity and reduce congestion around the National Capital Region.
“The focus of Opportunity MDOT is not to just bolster business for minority and disadvantaged companies, but to create careers for and economically empower Marylanders,” said MDOT Secretary Pete K. Rahn, who addressed hundreds of attendees at the Opportunity MDOT kickoff event on August 1 at the University of Maryland College Park.
Secretary Rahn noted that Opportunity MDOT is designed to help strengthen and grow Maryland businesses, the workforce and the economy by conducting outreach to a diverse field. He believes inclusion will foster innovative ideas that help to deliver transportation projects in new and better ways.
The kick-off event attracted 220 attendees representing 134 disadvantaged and minority- and women-owned businesses. MDOT is planning another round of information and outreach later this year.
“I think that there’s a lot of work and there’s a lot of parts for large and small companies to work together and independently,” said Meenatchi Jagasivamani, founder of Digirati LLC, a Potomac-based research and product development firm. “I hope to be a part of this really great work.”
Based on a similar initiative launched by Secretary Rahn during his tenure leading Missouri’s transportation agency, Opportunity MDOT will follow some of that program’s best practices. In addition to an advisory council comprised of representatives from local economic development agencies and business leadership groups, Opportunity MDOT features an online virtual hub for businesses and job seekers: the Center of Excellence. The hub provides tools and updates on training, self-assessments, information sessions and new opportunities.
“This event begins our journey with a focus on small businesses seeking contracts,” said Joe Lewis, program adviser for Opportunity MDOT, “but stay tuned as we gear up similar support for individuals who are seeking jobs across the program. We’re just getting started.”
In addition to its application for the I-495 and I-270 P3 program, Opportunity MDOT will ultimately become a tool for business and workforce training for MDOT projects across the state.
To stay informed about the Opportunity MDOT initiative, visit 495-270-p3.com/opportunity-mdot.