JEFFERSONVILLE, IN – Nearly 100 Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) and prospective DBEs from across Indiana and Kentucky got an up-close look at the proposed East End Crossing of the Ohio River Bridges Project – and a chance to meet representatives of the four teams competing for the right to design and build the bridge.
The networking event, sponsored by the Indiana Finance Authority and the Indiana Department of Transportation, attracted disadvantaged, minority-owned and women-owned business from as far away as Fort Wayne, Ind., and Glasgow, Ky. Firms from Ohio and Illinois also sent representatives.
The event was held at St. Stephen Church on Veterans Parkway in Jeffersonville, just a few miles from the site of the future Indiana approach to the East End Bridge.
“This was a great opportunity to learn more about the project and how my business might be able to contribute,” said Emma Ankenbruck, president of Piling Essential LLC of Fort Wayne. “It’s a big help to be able to meet face-to-face with major companies and establish a relationship. I’m so glad INDOT is doing this for DBEs.”
Frederick “Chip” Lee, president of C.Lee Construction Services of Gary, agreed. “Networking is a very powerful tool,” he said. “Even if I don’t get a contract out of this meeting, I’ve made some valuable contacts for possible future work.”
Representatives of the competing proposer teams also called the event a big success.
“This is a beautiful thing,” said Tony Buford, president of I.T. Business Corporation of Indianapolis, part of the Ohio River Mobility Group proposer team. “It cuts through a lot of red tape for the DBEs to meet with the major companies. I commend Governor Mitch Daniels and INDOT for doing this.”
Tiffany Mulligan, economic opportunity director for INDOT, said: “This event underscores Indiana’s commitment to DBE participation in the bridges project. We’re very pleased with the turnout and the enthusiasm we saw both from the DBEs and from the proposer teams.”
Business owners also got a chance to learn about the DBE certification process. Federal regulations require DBEs to be certified in the state where they are performing work for their participation to be counted toward a contract.
Indiana and Kentucky recently agreed to accept DBE certification from each other, so that firms certified in either state qualify as DBEs in the other state The project-specific agreement will allow Indiana DBEs to be counted as certified in Kentucky on the Downtown Crossing portion of the Project and will allow Kentucky DBEs to be counted as certified in Indiana for the East End Crossing portion of the Project.
The Ohio River Bridges Project calls for building two new bridges in the Louisville metro area and reconstructing the Kennedy Interchange, where three interstates merge near downtown. Kentucky is responsible for the downtown portion of the project, and Indiana is in charge of the eastern bridge between Utica, Ind., and Prospect, Ky., including the roads leading to the span on both sides of the river.
Both states plan to award contracts for their respective crossings before year’s end.
An August groundbreaking is expected for the first element of the massive project – a $5.5 million road extension that will ultimately connect the River Ridge Commerce Center to State Road 265 and the future East End Bridge. Construction on the main crossings will begin in early 2013