IDOT opens center to help minority business owners

By Evan F. Moore Correspondent June 16, 2014 8:28PM

Location, location, location is the motto for many Southland subcontractors these days.

Many of them are trying to expand the reach of the businesses they own.

Calumet City business owner Jody R. Thompson just wants to get his foot in the door and grow his company.

“It’s not easy but it’s out there; but you have to keep trying,” Thompson said. “I think I’ll get the opportunity I want. It’s a matter of not giving up.”

Thompson was one of a handful of business owners who attended Monday morning’s press conference for the grand opening of the new IDOT South Suburban Resource Center in Park Forest aimed at helping Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE). The resource center, located within the Ludeman Development Center, is the second to open Chicago area. It will provide minority and women-owned businesses with the assistance in acquiring opportunities to work on IDOT projects.

Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider spoke at the press conference along with members of the General Assembly, state Reps. Al Riley (D-Olympia Fields) and Larry Walsh Jr. (D-Joliet).

Schneider says the idea for the resource center started with the meetings she had with elected officials in the Southland.

“It is the right thing to do,” Schneider said. “If we’re doing a lot of work in the south suburban, Will County area, it was important to establish a foothold here.”

Riley said he believes that the resource center’s location makes sense to the people who won’t have to go into Chicago for local services.

“We can drive 20 minutes to the south and we’ll be at the airport footprint. Eight miles south of that is where the Illiana (expressway) is going to be,” Riley said. “It represents an hour of travel. You’re going to hit all of these areas.”

Thompson, the owner/president of Accugage Construction, LLC, echoed Riley’s sentiments.

“It’s closer to where I live instead of traveling downtown. It’s just better. It is better for me to access.”

Renad Alrousan, president of 4HD, Inc. says that the opportunities provided by the resource center will help her expand her business.

“My goal is to get an opportunity with the IDOT and the tollway. I will work hard for this,” she said. “I will not give up. I am sure that the opportunity will come soon.”

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