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Commissioner Simmons Hosts Disadvantaged Business Event in Indianola

INDIANOLA, MS — Central Transportation Commissioner Willie Simmons in collaboration with the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Civil Rights Division, Intermodal Planning Division, and Systems Consultant Associates, Inc. hosted a networking dialogue for local business leaders and transportation officials in Indianola, Mississippi.

The meeting aimed to ensure Mississippi’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) have the knowledge, resources, and information necessary to take advantage of infrastructure opportunities. It was held at the Charles W. Capps Technology Center in Indianola.

“We are trying to improve the number of DBEs we have available in our network so when MDOT — as well as our contractors — are looking for DBEs, there is a pool that are ready and knowledgeable of the kind of work that we are doing,” Simmons said. “Here in the delta, there are several businesses that have indicated they want to do business with MDOT, so this is a great opportunity to network with them.”

Simmons said there are obstacles that can get in the way and put some businesses at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to compete, whether it is their size, lack of resources, an inability to get funded, or a lack of knowledge when it comes to networking. The goal of the meeting was to further educate these businesses on these obstacles and the opportunities that are now here.

“Our goal with this event, and others like it, is to get information about upcoming opportunities in the hands of as many people as possible — to get as many firms as possible providing quotes and participating in the process,” said Carolyn Bell, MDOT’s Civil Rights Division Director. “Our hope is that this will lead to an actual increase in the number of firms getting work.”

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In addition to Bell, other MDOT panelists included Intermodal Planning Director Charles Carr and District Engineer Earl Glenn. Larry Davis of Systems Consultant Associates, Inc. facilitated the meeting. Other speakers included Shannon Brown of Allstate Insurance/Liberty Mutual and Josh McPherson, Project Engineer with Eley McPherson Engineering, P.A.

“The response has been very good. We’ve had one over in Meridian, one in Jackson where we had over 125 participants come out and participate, and now this one here in the Delta,” Simmons said. “We are hoping that attendees come in and get to know each other, because relationships are everything.”

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