MAY 15, 2014, WASHINGTON, D.C.- As part of The Surety & Fidelity Association of America’s (SFAA) Annual Meeting last week, experts on transportation and public-private partnerships (P3s) participated in a panel discussion, “Planes, Trains and Automobiles: P3s, Surety and Small and Emerging Contractors.” Shelby Scales, president and CEO of the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC), Jamie Kendrick, deputy executive director for transit development and delivery for the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), and Nyime Gilchrist, manager of the Bonding Education Program for the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), made up the panel. SFAA works closely with all of these organizations to increase bonding and job opportunities for small and emerging contractors.
P3s and building sustainable contractors are top priorities for SFAA. These two topics were common threads that ran through the Annual Meeting, including presentations by Tim Mikolajewski, president of Liberty Mutual Surety and chair of the SFAA Board of Directors for 2012-2014, and SFAA President Lynn Schubert. Joanne Brooks, SFAA’s vice president and counsel, moderated the panel and kicked off the discussion with an emphasis on the importance of P3s and small and emerging contractors to our industry.
Ms. Scales gave a presentation on the importance of having minority- and women-owned businesses and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBEs) work on airport contracts. “Minority, women, and DBE participation provides real value to the aviation community and helps stimulate the economy,” she said. Ms. Scales also talked about the efforts of a working group created to increase the pool of certified DBE firms that can perform key goods and services contracts for rental car companies at airports, thereby increasing participation rates.
Mr. Kendrick talked about the MTA’s significant P3 projects and its efforts to promote a diverse workforce on the Purple Line P3 project and assist DBEs through training opportunities. “We select preferred training partners based on their demonstrated track record of success in job placement and ability to reach diverse populations, among other criteria,” Mr. Kendrick said. The MTA also provides an online readiness assessment tool-Management Maturity Model (M3™)-to support small and emerging businesses when pursuing large-scale projects.
Ms. Gilchrist rounded out the presentation by sharing the success of the SFAA/USDOT Bonding Education Program (BEP) and how the program has created a new pool of qualified contractors. “The key to the program is the support of the surety industry, which allows participating contractors to build relationships with primes and stakeholders,” Ms. Gilchrist said. The focus of the BEP is to change the way DBEs perceive bonding and learn how bonding builds successful businesses. The program has grown from 3 pilots in 2010 to the implementation of 58 programs across the U.S. Since the program’s inception in 2010, 240 contractors have achieved bonding totaling over a quarter billion dollars.The Surety & Fidelity Association of America (SFAA) is a trade association of more than 450 insurance companies that write the vast majority of surety and fidelity bonds in the U.S.