In West Philly, Buttigieg calls for minority business owners to bid for ‘historic’ federal infrastructure contracts

Feds are granting $2.6B for Pennsylvania road, bridge and tunnel construction
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at an event in West Philadelphia encouraging Black and other minority contractors to get involved in the contracts becoming available through projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. At left: Della Clark, president of the Enterprise Center in West Philadelphia.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at an event in West Philadelphia encouraging Black and other minority contractors to get involved in the contracts becoming available through projects funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. At left: Della Clark, president of the Enterprise Center in West Philadelphia. Photo credit Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg joined regional leaders in West Philadelphia Thursday to discuss ways to include minority business owners in potential transportation contracting opportunities.

It’s part of the Biden administration’s priority to consider equity when distributing federal funding.

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will invest more than $100 billion in surface transportation. It aims to generate 1.5 million jobs annually across America.

Pennsylvania will get $2.6 billion in federal funds for roads, bridges and tunnel improvements.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime, historic, generational moment of investment in America's transportation infrastructure,” said Buttigieg.

“We’ve never had that kind of money flow out of Washington before that. There's a lot of money for a lot of different projects.”

Della Clark, president of the Enterprise Center in West Philadelphia, said her organization is committed to helping minority business owners be included in those contracts.

“Oftentimes they will bid on contracts, but they're relegated to be the sub versus the prime (contractor),” said Clark. “We want more minorities to be the prime, not the sub.”

“I often think of the historic example of how a single set of projects in Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport created so much work that it helped to establish one of the strongest Black middle classes in the country,” said Buttigieg.

“That happened largely because leaders at that time made sure that Black workers and business owners had a seat at the table and a chance at the work that was being created.”

Buttigieg says as part of the Biden administration’s commitment to equity, they are soliciting information and feedback from experienced small business owners.

“I know there are so many stories from businesses that are aware that opportunities exist, but it feels like you already have to be on the inside in order to have any access,” he said.

He added many of his department’s federal contracts can create institutional change.

“Infrastructure projects create good paying jobs,” he said. “They create contracting opportunities that generate income for families that then makes it possible for Americans to send their kids to college to buy homes to build intergenerational wealth for the future.”

“Don’t sit on the sideline. There are opportunities. You need to be meeting with SEPTA, the city, the counties, the school district, and finding out about these opportunities,” said Clark.

“This is historic.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Hadas Kuznits/KYW Newsradio