Illinois tollway tries to bring in the minority

News Chicago Tribune December 16, 2004
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The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority is determined to improve on the amount of construction work awarded to disadvantaged

The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority is determined to improve on the amount of construction work awarded to disadvantaged female- and minority-owned businesses, according to the Chicago Tribune. Less than 1% of toll authority work went to those types of enterprises in 2003.


To show it means business, the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority hired Rosalinda "Rusty" Castillo to serve as procurement/construction services manager. One of Castillo's first moves was to pull the names of those firms the authority had used in the past. What she found was a common theme. Court documents reveal that 0.9% of the $75 million in tollway construction work in 2003 was done by disadvantage business enterprises (DBEs). In 2002, only 1.3% of the work was awarded to DBEs.


Castillo is helping set specific participation goals per contract, and the agency now asks firms to explain in their bids how they will meet the goals. The tollway also is notifying minority- and female-owned firms about upcoming construction work. The agency also is requiring its employees to get at least one quote from DBEs when awarding a no-bid contract.


"A lot of it is access," Castillo told the Chicago Tribune. "If you just give them access, they will provide their quote. And if they are competitive, they will get the job like anyone else."


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