There's a renewed effort to increase the number of construction companies owned by minorities, women and disadvantaged business owners.
A new Contractors Development Initiative is underway in Peoria County.
"Our population is made up of 26 percent minorities and only 10 percent of businesses are run by minorities," says Assistant Peoria County Administrator for Economic Development Mark Rothert. "So, there's a huge disparity there we at the County want to address and tackle."
Peoria County's Minority Business Enterprise is teaming up with The Cayemitte Group, providers of surety bonds; the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc.; and the Minority Business Development Institute.
Rothert says bonding is what sets this project apart from others that have been attempted.
"There's a strong emphasis on being able to be bonded, which is needed in construction, especially public sector contracting and construction," Rothert says. "You need a surety bond to insure you will be able to do the work."
"If we can get minority firms trained with the skills and abilities to be bonded, that is a benchmark to show we have improved their abilities as a business to be successful."
"We chose construction as a starting point because we see it as a low hanging fruit," Rothert explains. "There are always on an annual basis construction jobs let out by federal, state and local governments to build roads, schools or other things. We have felt that's a fertile ground to help build some capacity with minority businesses."
Businesses interested in the Contractors Development Initiative are urged to call Rothert at (309) 672-6939.