Grant Paves Way for Businesses to Compete for DOT Work

CIRAS has received an Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) grant to help prepare disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) to compete for highway construction projects and other DOT-funded work.

This $133,000 DBE Support Services grant will fund CIRAS staff to offer one-on-one assistance to DBEs, which are generally defined as small businesses that are 51 percent or more owned by economically and socially disadvantaged individuals. Mary Zimmerman, manager of the DBE project, will coordinate services to DBEs by leveraging existing programs such as the CIRAS Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) and by coordinating conferences, training, and networking events aimed at providing the technical skills DBEs need to better compete for work.

The new grant dovetails with government contracting services available through CIRAS. The DBE Support Services program can assist DBEs with all aspects of their business such as marketing, website development, financial accounting processes, and estimating and bidding, to name a few. CIRAS can supplement those efforts by assisting the DBEs with understanding the entire government procurement process and helping them pursue other government work aside from the Iowa DOT.

“A company that’s new to government contracting needs to build their past performance so they improve their chances of winning a contract,” said Jodi Essex, PTAC government contracting director. “Performing as a subcontractor can help with that. CIRAS has relationships with many prime government contractors, and the DBE program is working on building relationships with prime Iowa DOT construction contractors so that we can host networking events and help those small companies or DBEs connect with these businesses in hopes of getting some subcontracted government work. And by working together, we can ensure there’s no costly duplication of effort.”

For more information, contact Mary Zimmerman at or 515-450-1278.