Long Island Rail Road Wants to Do Business with Small, Minority- and Woman-Owned Companies
They came looking for work. Nearly 200 owners of small, minority or woman owned-companies converged on Jamaica Station last Thursday, February 28 to learn how they might bid successfully for the numerous smaller contracts that are a part of MTA Long Island Rail Road projects.
All were guests of the MTA and the Long Island Rail Road at the first Discretionary Procurement Outreach Event, part of an all-out effort by the nation’s largest mass transit system to ensure that contracts valued at $200,000 or less are going to the little firms that need them most.
The enthusiastic entrepreneurs who filled the glass-enclosed rotunda of the JFK Air Train Building on the received an equally enthusiastic welcome from LIRR President Helena Williams and Michael J. Garner, the MTA’s Chief Diversity Officer.
Williams proclaimed: “The Long Island Rail Road is open for business. We have a Capital Program that is fully funded. We are out there ready to build some infrastructure and that means an opportunity for each of you in this room today. Our Capital Program is about spending. It’s about job creation. It’s about economic development for small businesses.”
She said the LIRR would show them how a new state law makes it easier for them as small businesses or certified minority and women owned enterprises or MWBEs to obtain discretionary procurements, the contracts that max out at $200,000.
Added Garner: “The MTA wants to make sure that we are spending the taxpayers’ dollars in an inclusive manner. We think that the most efficient way for you to work for us to create prime contract opportunities for you. Four years ago, we had 7.5% MWBE inclusion. As recently as Dec. 31, our numbers are 23% contract awards to NWBEs.”
Following their presentations, Williams and Garner conducted an extended question and answer session for the audience. Then, representatives of each firm had an opportunity to speak one-on-one with LIRR procurement specialists who told them how to obtain MWBE certification from the Empire State Development Corporation as well where to look on the MTA LIRR website (www.mta.infor/lirr/about/procurement) for current procurement opportunities, which are posted for a period of 10 days.
They also picked up informational brochures, such as “Doing Business with the Long Island Rail Road: A Guide for Vendors, Contractors and Suppliers.” A second brochure honed in specifically on discretionary procurement opportunities for MWBEs, including architectural/engineering, general services, information technology, maintenance of way, maintenance of equipment and more areas such as furnished goods, materials, supplies and equipment.
Officials said the event also helped the MTA and LIRR expand their list of potential MWBEs and provided a networking forum for the business owners.