Illinois Tollway and Illinois Department of Transportation honored by Hispanic business group for increasing employment opportunities

DOWNERS GROVE, IL – The Illinois Tollway and the Illinois Department of Transportation announced they have been honored by the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association for their work in promoting equal opportunities in the construction and engineering fields for Hispanic-owned businesses.

The two state transportation agencies will receive the group’s Advocacy Award tonight at its 35th annual awards banquet in Chicago.

“In Illinois, everyone should have an equal chance to participate in construction projects that create new jobs and connect businesses to their customers,” said Governor Pat Quinn. “These two state agencies are leading our efforts to ensure no one is left out as we move forward with improving vital transportation links across the state.”

“We are pleased to be recognized for our efforts to work with minority-owned businesses as we proceed with our Move Illinois Program – the largest capital program of any toll road agency in the nation,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “Governor Quinn and the Tollway Board of Directors have an unshakeable commitment to providing opportunities for a diverse group of people and businesses and we look forward to continuing this important work.”

The Illinois Department of Transportation, on the strength of Governor Pat Quinn’s historic six-year, $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! capital program, has provided $617 million in contract awards to Hispanic-owned firms over the last five fiscal years. The amount reflects a 24 percent increase in business to Hispanic-owned firms over that time and represents 34 percent of the $1.8 billion paid to disadvantaged, minority and women-owned firms statewide since the start of the 2009 fiscal year. In IDOT’s District 1, which includes Cook, DuPage, Lake, Kane, McHenry and Will counties, $491 million of the $1 billion awarded to disadvantaged, minority and women-owned firms went to Hispanic-owned firms during the same timeframe.

“As part of Transforming Transportation for Tomorrow, our vision for a multimodal system of transportation in Illinois, diversity and inclusion are the building blocks to creating a culture that draws on the strength of our differences,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider said.  “This award is an honor and demonstrates our commitment to provide opportunities and encourage methods that promote the development of successful businesses throughout our industry.”

Founded in 1979, the Hispanic American Construction Industry Association works to promote diversity in the construction industry, including partnering with public agencies such as the Illinois Tollway to ensure Hispanic- and minority-owned companies can compete for state contracts. The association, which has nearly 300 members, also works to help members of the Hispanic community gain the education and training needed to succeed in the construction, engineering and design industries.

“The Tollway and the Department of Transportation have played a leading role in opening up opportunities for Hispanic-owned businesses and workers to succeed in these vitally important fields,” said Hispanic American Construction Industry Association Executive Director Jorge Perez.

The Tollway has paid nearly $227 million to Hispanic-owned businesses for construction work and another $52 million for professional services between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2013. That $279 million amounts to nearly 37 percent of the $757 million the Tollway has paid to disadvantaged, minority and women-owned businesses for those services during that time.

The association also has offered the Tollway technical advice to help advance its Small Business Initiative, which identifies segments of large-scale construction and engineering projects that can be targeted for bids by small and minority-owned businesses.

About the Illinois Tollway

The Illinois Tollway is a user-fee system that receives no state or federal funds for maintenance and operations. The agency maintains and operates 286 miles of interstate tollways in 12 counties in Northern Illinois, including the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88), the Veterans Memorial Tollway (I-355), the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) and the Tri-State Tollway (I-94/I-294/I-80).