The Lafayette Airport Commission is planning an estimated $150 million in construction projects, including the new terminal and runway improvements, over the next 3-5 years. Some will be funded with federal dollars, some with state grants and others by the airport commission. A key component of these projects is the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) goal, set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), of 7.31 percent for minority-owned businesses on federally funded projects. The commission has decided that the DBE goal will apply to all projects, including state, local and airport funded ones.
“There are two Requests for Qualifications (RFQ) currently out for decision: an Architectural & Engineering RFQ and a Project Management & Construction Management RFQ. They will be followed by a Construction RFQ or bid later this year,” says Lafayette Airport Commission Chairman Paul Guilbeau. “The prime contractors we select for those three contracts will have a mandate to meet the DBE goal, which the commission considers very important. That opens opportunities for qualified, certified DBE businesses related to construction who chose to pursue that work . The key is the business must be certified as a DBE by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) and they must contact businesses who win the prime contracts.”
To help contractors meet their goals by promoting DBE certification to minority businesses, the airport commission will host two educational meetings and a workshop to help educate business owners to help them apply. Businesses eligible for DBE certification include those owned by Black Americans, Women, Hispanics, Native Americans and Pacific Asians. To qualify businesses must be 51 percent minority-owned, and the minority owner must run the daily operations of the business.
“There are very few certified DBE businesses in the Acadiana Region,” says Guilbeau. “With active participation from minority businesses who are interested, and assistance from our DBE education partners, we hope that will change. There is a process and paperwork that must be filed to gain certification. These meetings will be set up to help businesses learn and then complete the necessary applications with help from various agencies who provide their help free of charge.”
The DBE educational meeting will be held Wednesday, April 6 at 5:30 pm and will be repeated on Saturday, April 9 at 10 am at the Clifton Chenier Center, 220 W. Willow Street, Building C. Representatives from LADOTD, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Small Business Development Center, Southern University Small Business Development Center, Lafayette Regional Airport and Lafayette Consolidated Government’s DBE program will participate. They will discuss what the airport projects include, define what a DBE is and described qualifications for certification, and give an overview of the paperwork needed to apply.
Three weeks later, on Saturday, April 30 at 9 am, also at the Clifton Chenier Center, a workshop will be held where representatives from the educational meeting participants will be available to provide hands-on free help in filling out the DBE application. Both the meetings and the workshop are free of charge.
For those businesses ready to apply before the workshops, help is available through the Small Business Development Center at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette – contact Heidi Melancon at 337-482-6312.