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“Coaching for Growth” Program Offers Training, Networking for Diverse Firms


DOWNERS GROVE, IL — The Illinois Tollway, the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce recognized the first group of businesses to complete a program designed to help small construction companies, including minority- and women-owned firms, compete for Tollway contracts.

The Construction Coaching for Growth program offers specialized training during one-on-one coaching sessions and group workshops to help participating small businesses achieve growth by developing successful operating, sales and financial practices.

The first cohort of eight construction companies to finish the program was congratulated at the Great Lakes Region Small Business Transportation Summit in Chicago.

“Providing training and support for small businesses will create more jobs and more opportunities for these companies,” said Governor Pat Quinn. “These growing businesses will help keep our economy moving forward.”

The Construction Coaching for Growth program will help give small and diverse businesses the opportunity to take part in the Tollway’s 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future.

“This program will provide training and expertise to smaller companies so they can play a big part in our long-term plans to expand and improve the Tollway system,” said Illinois Tollway Executive Director Kristi Lafleur. “All firms, no matter how big or small, should have an equal chance at doing this vital work.”

The program is the latest in a partnership between the state agencies and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to develop new programs and services to ensure diverse businesses are working in the heavy construction industry.

“Helping minority-owned and women-owned small businesses is a core value behind our job creation efforts,” said Adam Pollet, director of the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. “Diversity in business ownership means an even stronger economy for Illinois.”

“Small businesses are the lifeline of our economy. As we rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, small businesses deserve a chance to compete,” said Omar Duque, President & CEO of the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “This program, in partnership with the Illinois Tollway, provides targeted training and one-on-one coaching, creating opportunities for small businesses and minority firms to grow their businesses and create jobs.”

The leaders of four businesses from Cohort 1 of the Construction Coaching for Growth Program participated in LaunchPad at the Summit, an event showcasing the services and future plans for each of the companies, as well as the benefits of the Construction Coaching for Growth program.

“It was an all-around great program that helped me clarify the vision I had for my company,” said Samantha Smith, president of Quick Cuts Concrete Cutting Services, a Belvidere company launched in 2007. Her company, which has worked as a subcontractor on Tollway projects, plans to continue to bid for work on future Move Illinois programs.

“It really gave me an opportunity to focus on my business and analyze how I wanted it to grow,” said Rey Rivera Jr., president of CSI 3000, a Chicago-based concrete contractor.

The program provided not just technical information, but opportunities to develop relationships that will help small businesses grow.

“One of the benefits was getting to know other companies in the areas where you do work. It’s a chance to promote yourself to other contractors working in the same field,” said Jose L. Aguilar, president of Belvidere-based Conin Contractor Services.

“There are a lot of benefits. Both the information they gave me and the relationships I built are invaluable,” said Julie Savitt, president of AMS Earth Movers, a Lake Villa hauling company established in 2007.

Other companies in the first cohort to complete the Coaching for Growth training include:

E R Bakey

E R Bakey was established in 2010 and provides service in demolition, trucking, excavating, disaster recovery, reconstruction and debris removal. It is headquartered in Carpentersville, IL.

Ocean Mist, Inc.

Ocean Mist, Inc. is a trucking company based in Schaumburg.  Established in 2009, it provides hauling services at construction sites.

R Power & Lighting, Co.

R Power & Lighting, Co. is a full-service electrical contractor from Forest Park, IL. The company specializes in electrical and data systems installation.

Sanchez and Associates, P.C.

Sanchez and Associates is a surveyor specializing in land title, boundary, and topographic surveys. The company is located in Chicago and was established in 2005.

For more information about Coaching for Growth, visit www.illinoistollway.com.

About Move Illinois

The Illinois Tollway’s 15-year, $12 billion capital program, Move Illinois: The Illinois Tollway Driving the Future, will improve mobility, relieve congestion, reduce pollution, create as many as 120,000 jobs and link economies across the Midwest region. Move Illinois will address the remaining needs of the existing Tollway system; rebuild and widen the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90) as a state-of-the-art 21st century corridor; construct a new interchange to connect the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) to I-57; build a new, all-electronic Elgin O’Hare Western Access and fund planning studies for the Illinois Route 53/120 Extension and the Illiana Expressway.

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).

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