TAMPA, FL, - The Florida High Speed Rail Minority Business Consortium (FHSRMBC), a statewide organization comprised of minority-owned businesses, was created to ensure that Florida's minority businesses are not left-out during the design, construction, operations and maintenance of the $3 billion taxpayer-funded High Speed Rail projects.
Though headquartered in Tampa, members include minority owned businesses from across the Sunshine State. Group members are meeting with Local, State and Federal Government elected officials and potential High Speed Rail (HSR) Prime Contractors to ensure FHSRMBC member interests are heard.
"We intend to demonstrate that FHSRMBC members and other minority businesses in the state have the expertise, past performance, and capability to fairly compete for contracts during each phase of the High Speed Rail project," said Thomas Huggins III, owner of Ariel Business Group, Inc. "We would like to see that a DBE/WMBE goal be applied to each major discipline involved on the project rather than having a single overall goal applied to the entire project." Minority business owners from across the state believe this is the only way they will be provided fair opportunities to participate in HSR projects and thus be able to provide local jobs.
Current HSR contract language does not include Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goals for each of the major phases of the project which include: Finance, Design, Construction, Operation, Concessions, and Maintenance.
While the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has verbally indicated during preliminary workshops their plans to have a goal of at least 8.18 percent DBE participation on the HSR project, FHSRMBC members want to ensure that Request For Proposals (RFP) for each phase include specific language that addresses the utilization of DBE and Women and Minority Business Enterprises (WMBE) certified business participation. Once DBE goals become part of the RFP evaluation criteria with appropriately assigned points, members believe this will ensure adequate minority business participation. Additionally, the FHSRMBC is advocating for inclusion of DBE goals for the Federal Rail Administration.
"One way to ensure that tax-payer dollars are recycled through our communities is to hire locally owned firms to participate in project work" said Milton Jones, President of APEX Digital Imaging and member of the consortium. "Minority owned firms hire people from the community and we would like to see some of those dollars benefit our communities."
FHSRMBC members are attending the FDOT Industry Forum on November 8 and 9, 2010 in Orlando, where they plan to meet with the large firms competing for the Prime Contractor position. Members want to ensure the large firms understand the capabilities of minority businesses in the state.
"We have received quite a bit of interest from minority businesses that want to be a part of this consortium," according to Rey Oliver, President of ReyO Enterprises, LLC and one of the founders of FHSRMBC.