Opportunities Rise for Small Business to Work on Detroit Metro Airport Projects
April 19, 2016
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  • Small and disadvantaged business enterprises are finding that getting a contract to work on projects at Detroit Metropolitan Airport is easier these days.

    Modifications to procedures to obtain contract work have more than tripled the number of certified small business enterprises hired by the airport. The increase happened in the last nine months.

    The Airport Minority Advisory Council Great Lakes Regional Forum on Wednesday and Thursday is showcasing the changes. The event attracts airport operators, airline executives, government officials and contractors. Many are attending the forum for professional development and networking.

    Samuel Nouhan, Wayne County Airport Authority vice president of procurement, said additionally Metro Airport’s procurement department was able to certify 106 disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) as small business enterprises (SBEs). This designation enables DBEs to bid for more contracts. “We redefined what it means to be an SBE, thereby making it easier for a DBE to qualify as an SBE. We loosened up (made smaller) the size limitation, so DBEs could qualify as DBE, SBE or both.”

    The U.S. Department of Transportation DBE program is designed to provide small businesses, owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, an opportunity to compete for federally funded transportation contracts.

    In July 2015, the airport authority had 80 SBEs. This March, the number was almost 340, including the DBEs that now have two designations.

    Nouhan gave two examples of positive results due to the revised procedures: For the airport’s new administration building, $3 million of a $20 million contract was awarded to SBEs. On an $85 million runway repaving project, $8.5 million went to DBE firms. A total of $18.5 million in subcontracting was awarded to SBEs and DBEs under this initiative.

    “I think it is generating an awareness and appreciation in the contracting community,” Nouhan said. “We are beginning to see positive outcomes.”