Tollway open house to promote expanded program in Waukegan

Effort aims to help small, diverse and veteran-owned firms do business with the Tollway

DOWNERS GROVE – The Illinois Tollway, in partnership with Inner-City Underwriting Agency Inc., is promoting its expanded Technical Assistance Program in Waukegan to help small, diverse and veteran-owned firms learn how to succeed in doing business with the Tollway.

The Tollway will host an open house for local businesses and community leaders to network with Technical Assistance providers and the Tollway from 3 to 4 p.m. May 17 at 206 N. Genesee St. in Waukegan. 

The Tollway has expanded its Technical Assistance Program offerings to now provide services to professional engineering services firms, as well as construction firms.

The event will provide an opportunity for emerging and established transportation-related firms to learn about services available to help prepare to bid. Businesses interested in participating are encouraged to register in advance via the Technical Assistance calendar on the Illinois Tollway’s website.

“The Illinois Tollway wants new firms in the Waukegan area to know about the services and resources available to them,” Tollway Chief of Diversity and Strategic Development Terry Miller said in a news release. “This open house is a great opportunity for Waukegan-area companies to grow and succeed by learning how to do business with the Illinois Tollway.” 

The Illinois Tollway’s Technical Assistance services are provided by partners, Inner-City Underwriting Agency and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, to increase the pool of small and diverse businesses that are qualified to compete for contracts as prime contractors and subcontractors in the Tollway’s 15-year, $14 billion Move Illinois capital program.

The technical assistance services are provided at no charge to businesses participating in the program, which is open to businesses located in the 12 Northern Illinois counties served by the Tollway.

Since it was launched, the Tollway’s Technical Assistance Program has provided support and training to more than 750 firms working to succeed and grow. As a result of the Tollway’s investment in the program, about 1,766 bids have been submitted by clients since 2017, including 377 on Tollway projects. In 2021, 167 of the bids submitted on Tollway projects resulted in 34 firms winning work as primes or subcontractors on 25 contracts.

Businesses participating in the Technical Assistance Program receive comprehensive, customized business development assistance to build financial understanding and business plan development for increased business stability and growth in the transportation-related construction industry. 

Services are customized to the assessed strengths, challenges and needs of participating firms. This includes education, guidance and feedback on general business and construction-specific operations, including strategic planning and assistance with the Illinois Department of Transportation pre-qualification applications.

Programs are either self-paced (participants determine how quickly the program is completed) or cohort-based (a group setting that invites a collaborative learning environment). In addition, providers offer support to help firms grow their businesses through networking events and creating partnerships on future contracts, including the Tollway’s Partnering for Growth Program.

The Technical Assistance Program is open to emerging businesses with little-to-no experience bidding on Tollway or other transportation agency contracts and need assistance with basic business infrastructure and bid processes. Established businesses with some experience in bidding transportation contracts or that have worked as subcontractors also are eligible to participate in the program to receive assistance that would allow them to work as a prime contractor on Tollway projects.