Nearly 300 People Attend Educational Meetings for DBE

The Lafayette Airport Commission recently held two educational meetings for area businesses to clarify the certification process for the Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE) goal established by the Federal Aviation Administration on upcoming airport projects. The high attendance, expert presentations and engaging discussions were an exceptional start to this dedicated effort to provide significant opportunities for businesses in the community.

Nearly 300 people were in attendance for the two meetings at the Clifton Chenier Center in Lafayette, which clarified how local businesses that are qualified can become DBE-certified and potentially secure work on airport projects. Because most airport projects utilize federal funding, it is a federal requirement that eligible businesses be DBE certified by the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development (LADOTD) for their work to be counted toward DBE goals.

Representatives from the LADOTD, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Small Business Development Center, Lafayette Regional Airport and Lafayette Consolidated Government’s DBE program participated in these educational meetings. They discussed what the airport projects include, defined what a DBE precisely is and described the qualifications for certification.

Several governmental leaders also attended the meetings to show their support of the airport, including Senator Gerald Boudreaux, Representatives Terry Landry and Vincent Pierre, Lafayette city council members Kenneth Boudreaux and Patrick Lewis, and Louisiana Transportation and Development Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson.

Over the next three to five years the Lafayette Airport Commission has plans for an estimated $150 million in construction-related projects, including a new terminal and runway improvements. These upgrades will be funded by a combination of federal dollars, state grants and other funds provided by the airport. A key component of these projects is the DBE goal, set by the FAA, of 6.52 percent.

The commission voted to have the DBE goal apply to all construction and related projects, no matter the funding source. Those who qualify for the DBE program include women, Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Subcontinent Asian-Pacific Americans and others.

“It was gratifying to see so many people from all parts of the community participate in these educational sessions and come away with a clearer understanding of the DBE qualification process,” said Lafayette Airport Commission Secretary/Treasurer Valerie Garrett, who was the point person for the Commission’s efforts. “The DBE goal is an important part of building an airport that will serve this region for generations. While meeting the goal will be the responsibility of the general contractors, the commission is dedicated to providing opportunities for people from all backgrounds and diversities.”

For the new terminal, the Lafayette Airport Commission has selected RS&H of Austin, Texas as the prime contractor for Architecture & Engineering (A/E), and Heery International of Atlanta, Ga. as the prime contractor for Project Management & Construction Management (PMCM). These contractors will actively seek subcontractors to work on these projects, and it presents an opportunity for DBE-certified businesses to promote their services.

On April 30 at 9 a.m., a workshop will be held at the Clifton Chenier Center where representatives from the organizations that participated in these educational meetings will provide hands-on, free help in filling out the DBE application. The earlier meetings and the upcoming workshop are free of charge.

“At the next meeting, there will be people who roll up their sleeves and help get applications completed for the prospects who come with the proper documents,” said Garrett. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to be involved in a great project in our community, and the DBE experts we will have on hand from City Parish Government, UL Lafayette and the LADOTD want to help everyone properly complete the application.”