Excitement, enthusiasm and a touch of uncertainty encompassed the room during this momentous graduation ceremony.
“This was one of the best programs I’ve participated in,” said Donielle Owen Diggs, one of the 18 graduates. She and her husband Leverett Diggs own and operate Dream City Trucking and Flagging, LLC.
It was the graduation ceremony for the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Small Disadvantaged Business Utilization Bonding Education Program. The ceremony was held at the Riverside Center for Innovation.
“What we learned and the contacts we made during the eight weeks was invaluable,” Owen Diggs continued. “The transparency from Lane Construction showed their commitment to the program. They brought in several of their key staff, not just locally, but from other states as well and they have (been) available to us. Several of us have met with them and they have assisted some of the participants (in receiving) contracts. The sponsoring organizations have really talked the talk and walked the walk.”
Dream City Trucking and Flagging operate throughout Western Pennsylvania. Their services include hauling of sand and gravel, aggregate hauling and heavy highway hauling. Their dump trucks are contracted for hauling material to and from construction sites, moving debris from natural disaster sites and helping during demolition. Through the flagging business they help to maintain projects by providing certified PennDOT flaggers for traffic control needs. Using the tag line, Two Companies with One Vision, Owen said both companies are city, county, state and federal Minority Disadvantaged Business Enterprise-certified, fully licensed and insured.
Hosted by the Riverside Center for Innovation, the training was a project of the U.S. Department of Transportation Bonding Education Program and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Small Business Transportation Resource Center.
A Partnership between The Surety and Fidelity Association of America and the U.S. Department of Transportation OSDBU, the BEP is designed to help small businesses become bond-ready. Tailored to businesses competing for transportation-related contracts, the BEP is described as a hands-on, multi-component program intended to address what businesses need to do to become bond-ready, as well as one-on-one sessions with local surety bonding professionals to help in assembling the materials necessary for a complete bond application. Components of the program consist of educational workshops, one-on-one interactive bond-readiness training, state/local transportation-related stakeholders meetings and participant follow-up assistance.
The second time the program has been hosted in Pittsburgh through the Diversity Business Resource Center, Tiffany Spraggins-Payne, Project Director, Mid-Atlantic Region U.S. DOT OSDBU, considers the 2017 program very successful. She said 22 people started, 18 graduated and two of the graduates already have obtained bonding. “The four that did not complete the program had other opportunities,” she said. She indicated that they are one of 13 field offices in the country administering the BEP on behalf of the U.S. DOT OSDBU.
The Lane Construction Corporation was another partner in the project. Lane, one of the largest producers of Hot Mix Asphalt in the United States with 125 years of experience defines itself as the premier transportation contractor. It is ranked as the number three highway contractor and is one of America’s leading heavy civil construction companies. They specialize in highways, bridges, mass transit and airport systems, as well as the power and energy sector. Based in Connecticut, Charlea D. Washington, compliance supervisor, and Kai Earie-Marion, DBE manager, represented Lane during the Pittsburgh sessions.
“It was a pleasure working with Lane Construction,” said Judith Woodson McNeil, program coordinator of the DBRC. “They were so involved and hands-on and it was a good experience for the participants to work with Charlea and Kai. It was also a pleasure working with Tiffany and her staff from the MA-SBTRC.
The keynote address for the graduation ceremony was provided by Donald Williams, CEO and founder of Weatherspoon and Williams LLC. The theme of his talk was Momentum: Building an Unstoppable Force. Pulling from years of experience providing contracting services as well as being a graduate from the first BEP class, Williams labeled building capacity, learning to conduct business as big business, utilizing resources available to you, building a network and relationships and being financially stable as a few keys to becoming successful.
Graduates of the program were Donielle Owen Diggs and Leverett Diggs, Dream City Trucking and Flagging; Teneka Chavis, TDC Contracting; Melissa Dunbar, MTDJ Trucking; Lewis McCullough, McCullough and Sons Construction; Stacy Avery, Avery Trucking; Anita Macias, Dragonfly Industries; Sareena Kennedy, Supreme Traffic Control Service; Floyd Edwards, Supreme Traffic Control Service; Katherine Cooper, Everyone Can Achieve; Carla Boyd, Be Smart Energy; Quintin Johns, Premier Choice Painting; Patrick Miller, Cam Construction; Earl Cooper, Everyone Can Achieve; Mona Minnie Branson, Low Country Building Solutions; Edwin Peoples, Jessie Mae Construction; Juan Williams, Williams Flagger Logistics.
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