As the City of Detroit continues to recover from a decades-long economic decline that reduced loss of jobs and opportunities for residents, the city continues to encourage public and private partnerships to improve its workforce and create opportunities for local businesses and communities. As part of the $2.9 billion-dollar effort to modernize an aging freeway, MDOT included aggressive workforce development and local businesses opportunities as additional goals to be accomplished on the I-94 Modernization Project.
Through innovative contracting and procurement mechanisms, MDOT awarded eight small businesses with contracts and broke ground with a “first of its kind” small business training program that would grow the technical capacity and business acumen of the companies involved. Through the $110 million I-94 Project, the small businesses were part of the “One Team Approach” in an office facility with access to required hardware and software, and individualized work areas. The businesses participated in valuable on-the-job technical training and senior leadership sessions, technical software training, customized business development workshops, real-time constructive feedback, formal work evaluations and project experience that would apply toward MDOT prequalification. The program was a win-win-win: the community received upgraded transportation infrastructure for their commutes, small businesses benefited from training and new opportunities – helping the local economy – while MDOT expanded their pool of knowledgeable and trained contractors.